PGA Tour to show off media chops with livestreaming
The PGA Tour will take an unprecedented step at its marquee Players Championship in March by livestreaming every shot from every player, producing a huge amount of live content that has the potential to reshape the tour’s next media rights deals.
The tour expects to have a new media rights deal by next March and hopes that by streaming every shot, it would create new content to sell.
“We know how important live sports is to media companies right now,” said Rick Anderson, chief media officer for the tour. “We’ve been talking a lot to the marketplace about how much more content we think we can do. That is definitely part of how the companies look at us and how they determine our value to them.”
At its March tournament, the tour will stream every shot live from all 144 players in all four rounds. Fans can access the streams via PGA Tour Live on NBC Sports Gold or Amazon’s Prime Video. Using 120 cameras throughout the TPC Sawgrass Stadium course, each player group will have its own dedicated livestream.
The plan by the tour comes after the Masters streamed every shot on Masters.com and the Masters app, but with a delay.
“This is a natural evolution of how the sport of golf has continued to be covered in an in-depth and complex way,” said Mike McCarley, president of golf for NBC Sports Group. “Viewers have more options for how they want to watch.”
NBC Sports provides linear coverage of the event.
The PGA Tour has 46 events, but for now plans to stream every shot only for the Players Championship next year. Luis Goicouria, the tour’s senior vice president of media, said that technical and back-end costs still need to drop before it gets rolled out to more events. The tour would not disclose production costs.
Goicouria also pointed to the tour’s current media negotiations as a reason it will not be used at more events. The tour’s current rights deals with CBS, NBC and Golf Channel are worth an average of around $400 million per year and run through 2021. Tour executives have said they plan to have a new deal in place by the end of the year and have been negotiating with several media companies, including CBS, NBC, WarnerMedia, ESPN and Amazon.
“We need clarity on who we’re going to be partnered with for the foreseeable future and whose platforms we’re working on and how they will work with us,” Goicouria said. “That will help define our timetable.”
The tour considers its plan to stream every shot from the Players Championship as more of a test. But Anderson said it is the first step to providing programming packages that could, for instance, include sending a feed with every shot hit by a Japanese player — complete with Japanese graphics — to Japanese media companies.
“We’re still a few years away from that,” Anderson said. “That’s where it starts to get exciting.”