SBD/November 6, 2013/Media

Golf Channel Experimenting With Nonstop Coverage During European Tour Events

European Tour coverage is muted during commercial breaks
Viewers watching the European Tour recently have "witnessed an interesting experiment on Golf Channel, which has continued showing live action, with no sound, through commercial breaks during the final two hours" of its Final Series rounds, according to Martin Kaufmann of GOLFWEEK. The experiment "apparently never has been tried in golf." Golf Channel Senior VP/Programming Tom Knapp said that the format, dubbed "Playing Through," is designed to "allow fans to keep track of developments late in rounds." He said that European Tour advertisers were "enthusiastic about the experiment." Knapp: "We're testing something, and they're interested in seeing what the results are." Bridgestone Golf Exec VP/Marketing & Sales Dan Murphy said the idea was a "smart" move. Murphy said of viewers, "Annoyed or pleased, that's something we really need to understand." Murphy also "wonders whether the impact of ads will be diminished in this format." Kaufmann writes, "I like the concept; it gives me hope that the medium is evolving. I did find it ironic while GC's goal is to keep viewers apprised of action, I actually paid more attention than usual to the commercials" (GOLFWEEK, 11/8 issue).

THE RIGHT STUFF: In L.A., Jill Painter wrote Golf Channel "did the right thing" in not firing analyst Brandel Chamblee for his Golf.com column that was critical of Tiger Woods. The net deserves credit for "not caving under the public pressure from Woods, his agent Mark Steinberg and fellow golf star Rory McIlroy," as there would have been "little surprise if the Golf Channel gave in to the world's top-ranked golfer." Perhaps Woods "retaliates by not doing interviews with the Golf Channel anymore," but Golf Channel can "still show every Woods golf swing" (DAILYNEWS.com, 11/5). GOLF WORLD's Ron Sirak writes Woods' "doghouse is deep and difficult to escape" and he wonders how Woods will "punish Golf Channel." Sirak: "Will Steve Sands no longer get those quickie interviews with Tiger?" Meanwhile, Chamblee's profile "has never been higher," and people who "didn't know who he was now do." That includes the "folks at Fox Sports, who will be putting together a team to televise the U.S. Open" beginning in '15. However, Sirak did ask, "How does Golf Channel use Chamblee now? Is his credibility covering Woods diminished?" (GOLF WORLD, 11/11 issue). Meanwhile, SI's Michael Bamberger writes Woods and Steinberg "have immense power, and they wielded it" in the Chamblee situation. Bamberger: "They made this thing about Chamblee and his commentary and not about Woods and his rules problems" (SI, 11/11 issue).

SHARK IN THE WATER: In West Palm Beach, Brian Biggane noted CBS golf analyst Ian Baker-Finch thinks it will be a "home run" if Fox hires Greg Norman for its lead analyst position when the net takes over U.S. Open coverage in '15. Baker-Finch said, "He’d be the best. He’s the most knowledgeable, the most articulate, and they’ve obviously got the money to afford him. That’s what it comes (down) to. He’s promoting his brand, he’s promoting himself, but he’ll do a very good job." Meanwhile, Baker-Finch said of NBC losing the Open rights to Fox, "I feel sorry for NBC, that they were dealt the hard blow by the USGA. But if somebody comes in and says, hey, I'll pay you double, I know which deal I'm taking." Baker-Finch feels CBS' Nick Faldo and ESPN's Paul Azinger "have changed the way golf analysts are perceived from days of Ken Venturi and, more recently, Johnny Miller." Baker-Finch: “They’ve done a good job of making it a little bit lighter, a little more modern than it had been. NBC is a bit too serious sometimes" (PALM BEACH POST, 11/6).
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