With Jordan Spieth seeking to become the sixth player to notch a career Grand Slam with a victory at the PGA Championship this week, TNT and CBS tee up for coverage from Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte starting Thursday on TNT at 1p. Broadcast plans for this year’s event will include more than 18 hours of live action on TNT led by hosts Ernie Johnson Brian Anderson, analysts Ian Baker-Finch and Billy Kratzert, and Amanda Balionis providing pre- and post-round interviews while Trevor Immelman was added as a new on-course analyst for this year’s coverage. Meanwhile, NBA Champion Andre Iguodala will serve as a special contributor for the event and contribute across multiple platforms, including TNT, CNN, PGAChampionship.com, the PGA Championship Apps, and PGA.com’s social media platforms.
Meanwhile, the PGA Championship’s official digital platforms, managed by Turner Sports, received an overhaul ahead of this year’s tournament with a focus on broadened video integration – including four times the amount of live and on-demand video content pieces than in the past – and responsive optimization for mobile viewing via PGA Championship LIVE and sponsored by Omega, Mercedes-Benz, Arby’s, National Car Rental, Workday and Ping. The video experience will showcase the event’s top players via its Featured Group channels while PGA Championship LIVE will debut dedicated live video coverage of The Green Mile. Cynopsis Sports caught up with PGA.com GM Gary Treater to discuss the upgrades, the viewing habits of the golf fan and what to expect from the tournament.
Treater on viewing habits: One of the things that we’ve noticed across all sports, and golf is no exception, is the changing viewing habits of sports fans, particularly with live events. Obviously, we’ve got traditional television and we’ve created a lot of content and live videos for a second screen experience. Turner tends to look at this through the lens of how consumers are viewing sports and then try to create compelling multi-platform experiences for them. On the digital side, we’ve seen significant changes in the last few years and we’ve taken the opportunity to upgrade our digital products and platforms to address those changes with a focus on more video, more focus on mobile and also creating and programming content that addresses these various viewing habits that people have during a live event.
On golf fans: For golf, viewing habits can change across the four days or even from morning until afternoon because the event goes on for so long and people have the opportunity to view it all day. So we have to address the way we present content and how we build our products. For golf fans, we’ve seen much more demand for video in recent years. This year, you will see more live streams, with five available for fans on digital. On VOD, we looked at what fans are gravitating toward and because of their busy lifestyle, they sometimes can’t view the live feed, so we are going to produce four to five times the amount of VOD content we have offered in the past. For example, a typical fan on Thursday might be in the office and be able to access the stream on desktop, and spend two hours watching that accumulated throughout the day. As they leave, they may go home, tune in to TNT and watch the broadcast and toward the end of the evening, they tend to catch up and find out what happened during the day that they may have missed. On weekends, they are less in front of their desktop and on the go more, so providing different types of content is part of what we are doing in terms of programming differently.
On the PGA Championship: We tend to look at a live golf event like the PGA Championship as a three-legged stool. We’ve got live video, live scoring and then live reporting on what else is happening. Often time sin golf, there are so many shots and activities that never make it on air, that we are able to capture and feed it into our stream so people can see what’s going on as a supplement to their viewing experience.
On spectators: One of the things that the PGA has always encouraged Turner to do is – in addition to serving this worldwide audience – to leverage our expertise into making the on-site fan experience exceptional as well. Golf is a hard sport to view on-site. You don’t see the whole field, you can’t see all of the players at one time, etc. So the spectator experience is more challenging than in other sports. So what we’ve done is to use our products and technology to enhance that experience that includes new features in the app to make it easier for fans to find their favorite players and navigate toward them. We use alert to notify them within seconds or minutes by curating a piece of content and pushing it out to them even if they are only three holes away.