Is there anything more frustrating than tuning into a Major championship or PGA Tour event to watch our Aussie contingent strut their stuff, only for them to be completely brushed by the American coverage?
Adam Scott knows the drill. He’s one of the players we don’t seem to see much of on TV these days, despite a recent return to form. “I say this respectfully but everyone back home says there is biased coverage of American players and that doesn’t do wonders for golf globally,” he told AAP. “It would be wonderful if you could press a button and stream your favourite player.”
Well, hold onto that remote, Scotty, because that’s exactly what’s heading our way in the not too distant future. Aussie golf fans could soon be able to watch entire live rounds of homegrown stars like Scott, Jason Day and Marc Leishman with the sport’s new broadcasting heavyweight, GolfTV, revealing its plans to introduce individual player coverage Down Under.
Aussies first became aware of GolfTV earlier this year when they took to social media to question why the season’s two early WGC events weren’t being broadcast on Fox Sports like the usual PGA Tour events. Turns out GolfTV had locked them away exclusively in what was perhaps an early preview of what’s to come.
So how did this streaming alternative come about? Last year, the PGA Tour signed over its international multi-platform rights to media giants Discovery for a whopping $2 billion. Discovery then launched GolfTV as their video streaming service for markets outside the US, which became available here in January.
What is GolfTV exactly? Think the “Netflix for golf”. It’s the future of sports broadcasts. Cricket Australia, the NRL and AFL already have their own apps and streaming services available to you. Fox Sports, with the introduction of Kayo, have also got into the streaming game. Golf being a truly global game (with the various tours) means GolfTV in the next few years will be available in 200-plus countries. Australia was one of the first to have the product.
As it stands, Aussie golf fans can still watch golf’s major tours live on Fox Sports as well as GolfTV on their personal devices (or via a smart TV) but how much longer that lasts will be up to GolfTV executives, who will take sole ownership of major tour coverage in the coming years. Time will tell how long FoxSports hang onto golf but the latest deal was recently inked so it’s got a couple of years to run yet.
But what is clear right now is Aussies are fed up with American feeds that not only snub Australian players – even when they are in contention – but also focus on too few of the bigger American names.
“I agree; it’s a bummer for fans and it’s something we can solve,” president of Discovery Golf, Alex Kaplan, told AAP.
GolfTV’s future plans are to capture every shot at PGA Tour events and supplement that coverage with an extensive on-demand content offering.
“The vision for us, which is a number of years away, is every shot, of every player, on every hole,” said Rick Anderson, the PGA Tour’s chief media officer.
To kick-start their snackable offerings, the company signed Tiger Woods to an exclusive content deal that will give subscribers a rare insight into the 14-time Major winner’s everyday life on and off the course, along with lessons and pre and post-round interviews.
But with a view to localise content as much as they can to appeal to each market around the world, could we see exclusive content arrangements with Day, Scott, Leishman and the likes?
For Scott, the new broadcasting model is a no-brainer to engage Aussie golf fans.
“It’s simple; watching every shot of every player absolutely has to be the future,” he says. “It would absolutely boost golf in Australia.”
Like anything these days, price point will determine how successful the GolfTV subscription model becomes in Australia. What are we prepared to pay for 24/7 golf? Given a “premium pass” currently costs the consumer $179.99 per year, one feels there could still be some wriggle room.
Stay tuned, folks… quite literally.