SBJ/Aug. 19-25, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Tour taking leaderboards on the road

The PGA Tour doesn’t want drivers taking their eyes off the road, but the tour does want them to know who’s leading their golf tournament.

In a novel approach this week, the tour is taking its live leaderboards to digital billboards on the side of heavily trafficked highways across the country.

The PGA Tour will update the leaderboard from The Barclays on billboards along major U.S. highways.
Photo by: PGA TOUR
The leaderboard from this week’s first FedEx Cup playoff event — The Barclays — will be broadcast across parts of the country on CBS Outdoor digital billboards. CBS broadcasts the weekend rounds from the tournament, which runs Thursday through Sunday.

The boards will have real-time, up-to-the-minute scores and prominently feature the event’s title sponsor. “It provides a nice way in multiple markets to create awareness and exposure for title sponsors,” said Ty Votaw, the tour’s executive vice president and chief global communications officer.

The tour has experimented with live leaderboards on billboards a few times previously in local markets, but this is the first time a playoff event has been featured, and it represents the most extensive effort across the CBS Outdoor billboard nationally.

For The Barclays, the tour will use 36 digital billboards in and around Jersey City, where the tournament is played at Liberty National. The leaderboards will be in other major markets across the country as well, including Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Phoenix and Tampa.

“A lot of it is based on availability,” Votaw said. “We may have five boards in one market and one board in another, but on major thoroughfares. On average, it comes out to 10 million to 12 million impressions. It’s not something we’re looking to do every week, but we will look to match up CBS’s availability with select events.”

The tour did not specify how much the billboards cost to run from Thursday to Sunday, but at least part of the CBS Outdoor fee is being traded for with hospitality at PGA Tour events.

In addition to providing more exposure for the tournament and its title sponsor, the billboards also can flash tune-in announcements for TV coverage of The Barclays.

This is not the first time a sports entity has provided real-time updates via digital billboards. Stephen Freitas, chief marketer for the Outdoor Advertising Association, said the Olympics used billboards to update medal counts in 2012, and the NCAA issued score updates on billboards earlier this year.

“The reason advertisers find the digital billboards so appealing is that they’re nimble,” Freitas said. “You can change the content and the creative instantly. It’s the perfect media match because it’s mobile and it’s out of home. It also has the ability to supercharge the TV elements as well and tell more people about a golf program.”

The tour has discussed the possibility of adding live video to the billboards, but it hasn’t moved in that direction yet. Concerns over driver distraction and the cost of delivering a feed to the billboards are central to that decision. CBS and NBC/Golf Channel broadcasts already are streamed online.

This year, the tour featured the Memorial Tournament leaderboard on billboards in a dozen markets, mostly around Dublin, Ohio, where the tournament is held each May. Previously, the tour has had leaderboards on billboards for the 2012 WGC Bridgestone and the Players Championship only in the local markets. The tour hasn’t had anywhere near the coverage nationally that it will have this week.

Growing the advertising to more than just a few tournaments a year likely will require a sponsor to cover the costs of the boards, Votaw said.

“We’d like to add one to two events a year, but that would depend on sponsorship for the overall program,” he said.
The real-time leaderboard information for the digital billboards will come from the tour’s ShotLink technology.

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