Sunday Sermon: Does Digital Right

If I told you that has broadcast 15,000 live events across its digital and broadcast properties since September, you might think it was just another April Fool’s joke. But this very serious factoid, divulged in an interview with CBS last week, is just another hint that the “Big Eye” network is getting things right when it comes to bringing sports fans more of what they want, no matter how it gets there.

“People don’t realize how many live events we do,” said Jason Kint, senior vice president and GM of, in a phone interview last week. This time of year, as usual, is CBS’s time to shine with its back-to-back big events, the men’s NCAA hoops tournament followed by golf’s crown jewel, the Masters. And while the events are huge regular-broadcast ratings earners, they are also prime examples of how to do digital sports coverage right, from depth of content offered to technology-based innovation.

Getting the Rights Right is Step No. 1

It wasn’t too long ago that trying to watch as much of the NCAA tournament as you could was an exercise in futility. CBS kept the broadcast rights close to its vest and only showed select games to select regions of the country. Remember the old “look-in” snippets of exotic games? Or trying to find sports bars who could get satellite feeds of the distant regionals?

Several years ago, all that changed when online video emerged as a stable platform, and embraced it for the NCAAs in a bigger way than any other major event had. All of a sudden, seeing every game you wanted to live online was possible. And even though the fees and locations are still a work in progress — one year the cost was $10, last year it was free, and this year there was a $3.99 charge for mobile device app viewing — the bottom line was that every game was out there for fans to see, on multiple platforms.

At the Masters there is also a little bit of overlapping coverage — you can see all the CBS coverage directly at or via a Masters-issued mobile device app, or you can go directly to, either via a wired connection or through a mobile-device browser. The big point is, there’s no digital shutout to cause consternation, like the regional blackouts that frustrate baseball and football fans.

“A lot of [digital coverage] is slowed down by the way the [broadcast] rights are constructed,” Kint said. “With the NCAAs we started out with rights across multiple platforms so we were able to move forward in unique ways, thinking about what the fans wanted.”

Innovation pushes the fan envelope

The Masters was another early digital sports standout, breaking away from any other online event coverage, golf or otherwise, with an enormous amount of additional content. Who knew that fans would keep their computers glued to coverage of “Amen Corner” for hours at a time? But that is what has happened, and the online viewership for the event only keeps growing, Kint said.

“You have to give credit to Augusta National for being forward thinking, yet doing things in a way that keeps it exclusive and special,” Kint said. Part of what makes the Masters a compelling online attraction is the fact that half the competition takes place on Thursday and Friday, when many U.S. fans are still at work. The second part is that the Masters has a unique history, being the only major contested at the same course year in and out, so that places like Amen Corner or other holes like 13, 15 and 16 become fan favorites all their own.

Plus, for many golfers the lyricism that is Augusta is a welcome harbinger of spring and summer, the seasonal reminder that grass is growing and it’s good to be outside.

“Masters online viewing has long hang time — we see a lot of average viewer times of more than an hour,” Kint said. “It’s almost therapeutic, to just leave it on in the background.”

This year, the online coverage will add new treats, including coverage of the Wednesday par 3 contest (which will also be covered via regular broadcast outlets, like ESPN and on’s cable channel) and a new “On the Range” talk-show segment beginning Monday of Masters week.

And though we probably aren’t to the point yet where fans’ tweets will be shown on Masters scoreboards, you can bet that will continue to find ways to stay at the forefront of the social media conversation. We really liked its after-the-game chats during the college football season, and you can bet the signing of former ESPN personality and Twitter champ Jim Rome to a show on CBSSportsNet (which starts Tuesday night) will help push the fan-interaction envelope going forward, and keep its digital-sports winning streak intact.


  1. […] Sunday Sermon: Does Digital Right “People don't realize how many live events we do,” said Jason Kint, senior vice president and GM of, in a phone interview last week. This time of year, as usual, is CBS's time to shine with its back-to-back big events, the men's NCAA … Read more on Mobile Sports Report […]

Speak Your Mind