SBJ/April 22-28, 2013/Media

It’s always tee time somewhere: Golf Channel will begin streaming entire channel this week

Editor's note: This story is updated from the print edition.

Golf Channel will start streaming its entire channel on Wednesday, through a series of TV Everywhere deals it cut with six distributors.

Live tournament coverage and other features will be available on mobile devices as well as via broadband.
Authenticated customers of Cablevision, Comcast, Mediacom, Suddenlink, Dish Network and FiOS will be able to watch a live stream of the channel via broadband or mobile connections. Executives hope to get other distributors on board in the next six months.

Just last week, the NBC Sports Group announced that NBC Sports Network would live-stream many of its events. Because of some rights issues, the entire NBC Sports Network channel will not be live-streamed.

Golf Channel’s streams will be helped by the channel’s live tournament coverage, executives say. European tournaments generally are carried in the morning, and U.S. tournaments are carried in the afternoon. NBC Sports Group, which owns Golf Channel, acquired the PGA Tour’s TV Everywhere rights in 2011, when it signed its most recent media rights deal.

“When our viewers are in the office and don’t have access to TVs, TV Everywhere can let them watch,” Golf Channel President Mike McCarley said.

TV Everywhere has had a lot of hype over the past four years, but television executives have started to voice their frustrations about the slow take-up rate among consumers and the lack of universal participation among TV networks.
Golf Channel executives say these types of TV Everywhere deals are important to distributors, who believe that providing content on multiple devices will keep subscribers from cutting the cord.

NBC executives also believe that TV Everywhere will take off eventually, particularly when more high-quality content is available and authentication is easier. Executives with NBC Sports Group, which owns Golf Channel, say their TV Everywhere experience with the London Olympics persuaded them to expand it to their U.S. TV channels.

NBC Sports Group authenticated 10 million devices during the Olympics, which was double the amount that the group was expecting, according to Rick Cordella, NBC Sports Group’s senior vice president and general manager of digital media. Golf Channel will use the same authentication process NBC used in London.

One of the best streaming results in London came from women’s soccer, when 1.47 million users live streamed an Olympic women’s soccer match, Cordella said.

“We know that people will actually go and authenticate,” Cordella said. “People are willing to authenticate for really good content.”

Another Olympics example: NBC executives also believe that linear TV live streaming will help the linear channel’s TV ratings.

“The more content we put on these platforms, the more people will watch the linear channel,” Cordella said.

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