The U.S. Open’s last hurrah on NBC, ESPN — last chance for good online golf?

If there’s one thing that’s been a bonus of ESPN’s coverage of the U.S. Open golf championship, it’s the fact that for those of us on the West coast, coverage starts at 6 a.m. local time. That means that by the time most of us are at our computers Thursday or Friday, there’s already live golf to be found. For one last time, we’ll enjoy it as the lads tee it up at Pinehurst No. 2 starting Thursday morn.

Will it be the same next year when Fox takes over? Though Fox did a decent job of the Super Bowl online this past big game, there’s no telling how good or how bad Fox’s golf broadcasts will be, and much less how much Fox will devote to online efforts. If the past is any clue, we may see a regression of sorts when it comes to online options from Fox. For this year, anyway, we’ll still have the rich options usually available from ESPN (including the WatchESPN app) as well as the above-decent online offerings from NBC for the weekend play.

You can, of course, also use the official U.S. Open apps or mobile websites to get mobile/online coverage of two featured groups and featured holes, a la the Masters but with less depth. And if you can stand the amount of time it takes for all the dumb features to load, the PGA’s new home page will certainly be kept up to date with scores and video highlights, as well as pointers to where you can watch live stuff.

NBC, which earned all kinds of honors recently for its online coverage (especially its Olympic streaming efforts) still, in my book, is learning how to do all this. Yes, there was lots of Olympics stuff online, but you had to hunt really hard to find the actual live programming late at night from Sochi — and when you did, the NBC window could spoil the results for you, since the integrated Twitter feed was usually a minute or two AHEAD of the NBC “live” online broadcast. Still, NBC and the NBC-owned Golf Channel should have more info and analysis than you could possibly want all weekend.

If you are watching on an actual television set, the ESPN coverage on Thursday and Friday goes from 9 a.m. Eastern to 3 p.m. ET, then you switch over to NBC for two hours, and then back to ESPN for the last two hours of coverage. On the weekend, it’ll be the last call for Johnny “63” Miller as lead broadcaster, as NBC covers things from noon ET to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and Sunday from noon until the winning putt drops. Or until there’s a tie and an 18-hole Monday playoff.

The Players Championship keeps major-like online viewing options

Island green at TPC Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship

Island green at TPC Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship

It’s still not recognized as one of professional golf’s majors, but this week’s Players Championship tournament nonetheless has majors-like online coverage, with multiple ways to watch golf online during a weekend when almost all of the top players are competing.

In addition to having big-event features like being able to follow featured groups of players throughout their entire round and to watch every group play the famous island-green hole, No. 17, the Players online options also include the PGA’s whizzy Live Maps feature, which lets you look at an interactive Google map of the course and then click on the group you want to see shot info for. For desktop jockeys who want to keep an eye on golf during Thursday and Friday, such option are what make online sports worthwhile.


As we did last year, however, we can’t heartily recommend the PGA app for mobile devices, unless your mobile device is made by Apple. We’ve tried the PGA app on several of the Android devices we have around the MSR headquarters, and have found it still spotty — sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The other confusing thing about trying to watch golf online is the weird handoffs that sometimes happen due to network coverage issues.

What do we mean? Sometimes the golf is available online only, and sometimes you have to open the NBC app because the coverage is live on broadcast TV. Though it seems like you can always get there, the hoops and jumps seem like a confusing Kludge. Why golf (and other sports) can’t figure out the rights issues between themselves and just make it one-click easy for the fans is beyond me. But it’s a little reminder that we are still at early days for online and mobile sports viewing, and at least for me the value of being able to watch online or on a mobile device is worth the tradeoff of having to figure out how to configure my device or launch the right app. But it should be easier, and better.

Variety of apps to support the Sochi Olympics


NBC’s broadcast of the Olympics should be boon to its online and streaming viewership, even though this is something that the network has made available for some time. As with many apps and capabilities users often only discover them when looking for specific tool or event.

There are a surprising number of apps available for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics that will be held in Sochi starting later this week. They range from simple calendars to one that will be showing live events.

Actually this is probably not surprising but then it’s hard to say why you would want something aside from the one that is available from NBC Sports, the official broadcaster of the games. Aside from the fact that the app, NBC Sports Live Extra, is from the broadcaster it was hardly just conceived for the Olympics.

The app also provides live sports events that air on NBC, NBC Sports Network and the Golf Channel so that over the course there will be IndyCar, the PGA Tour, Premier League Soccer and the NHL to name just a few.

We have already mentioned most of the features of the app as it pertains to the Olympics but it’s good to mention that there will be 1,000 hours of live streaming video with some replay on demand capabilities. It is free to use with select caveats.

However if you are looking for different functionality there are plenty of options starting with the U.S. Olympic team’s official app. It details who has made the team, links to athletes’ social media and an up-to-date following of how they do.

Another general purpose sports app, this one with a more international flavor, which will have a special focus on the Winter Olympics, is BBC Sports. It will have live coverage of events at the games and can be used to follow a wide range of International sports.


An interested app is the Sochi 2014 WOW (Wireless Olympics Works) that comes from Samsung Electronics, one of the major sponsors. The app is customizable so that a user can have it focus on their specific interests. Not too surprising is that it is also optimized for Samsung devices.

Watching Golf this Week: The Memorial, AKA Playing at Jack’s House

Memorial golf Did you miss us golf fans? Yes, MSR’s weekly how to watch golf primer took a couple weeks off. No big deal, we just got busy and hey, we’re just like the top golfers sometimes — can’t be at every stop!

But we digress. On to the golf, at the Memorial which, thanks to its “ownership” by uber golf legend Jack Nicklaus this weekend gets mini-major status — kind of like, say, an NFL Divisional playoff game. Or round 2 of the NHL playoffs. However you categorize it, all the big names are in Ohio this weekend, though after watching Rory McIlroy struggle on Thursday he probably ain’t going to be there for Saturday or Sunday.

Defending champ Tiger Woods? A 1-under on Thursday is just fine, even though it puts him 6 back of early leader Charl Schwartzel. Remember, Tiger does well on courses he likes (Torrey Pines, Bay Hill) and he’s won here five times before. So if he’s within three or four on Sunday, we still like his chances.

Are you feeling the U.S. Open yet? Two weeks away and we are already getting ready for Marion. It was cool to watch the Golf Channel replay of the 1971 playoff between Nicklaus and Lee Trevino — just loving to see all the new cool stuff GC is doing, including putting all its shows online. What a surprise, but not to us! Golf people love their online coverage, and Golf Channel is showing how smart it is by adding live online simulcasts and now studio shows too.

More coming soon about online golf, and about AT&T’s new method of bringing cellular coverage to golf events — but not right now. Still busy with other stuff so enjoy the Memorial this weekend, especially online where there is more coverage than you think Broadcast is on CBS.


(all times Eastern)
Friday, May 31 — Golf Channel, 2:30 p.m. — 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 1 — Golf Channel, 12:30 p.m. — 2:30 p.m.; CBS, 3 p.m. — 6 p.m.
Sunday, June 2 — Golf Channel, 12 p.m. — 2 p.m.; CBS, 2:30 p.m. — 6 p.m.

SIRIUS XM (Satellite)
12 p.m. — 6 p.m., Thursday-Sunday. The live broadcasts are also available to subscribers on the SiriusXM Internet Radio App and online at

This a better deal for those not living in the U.S., because it’s free internationally. Inside the U.S. you will pay (due to rights fees) $1.99 per event or $9.99 for the whole year. Gives you the CBS feed, audio version. Click here for more info and payment plans for your area.

The PGA’s Live@ is back! The Memorial gets full “major-like” treatment, with simulcast coverage, featured groups and more. Thankfully the PGA has put all your options on this page so click there and see what’s online, live.

Get another online fix via Shot Tracker.

Here’s The Memorial Facebook page.


The Memorial Twitter feed.
Geoff Shackelford — well known golf writer. If you’re not following Geoff you are missing the online boat.
Golf Channel — official Golf Channel feed
@PGATOUR — official PGA Twitter feed
@StephanieWei — great golf writer who is a Twitter fiend. Now leading the Wei (hah!) with Google+ Hangouts during most tourneys.
Doug Ferguson is the lead golf writer for AP. Good Twitter insights that often aren’t part of your wire-service lead.
Matt Ginella is a former Golf Digest writer now at Golf Channel. Your guide to the best golf course reviews, evar. Plus great columnist-type commentary on a regular basis.

Muirfield Village Golf Club — designed by Jack for tournament play. Here’s the tourney site course page, which looks plain but has a lot of interactivity if you click around, video flybys and multiple hole vantage points. The Nicklaus design company page has some stunning photos as well.

The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch has things pretty well nailed down with a special Memorial site. Interactive course map, video, features, it’s all here. Hurray for newspapers.

Tiger Woods. Or do you not remember this shot?

Would Proposed A La Carte Cable Bill Hurt Sports Channels?


Senator John McCain is introducing a bill that would enable cable companies to offer subscribers the ability to select which channels they would watch, and pay for and allow them to relegate the remainder to the waste bin.

The push is not his first try at this, he had a similar bill back in 2006 that did go very far, and the new effort, called the Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013 is designed to encourage the cable companies to offer freedom of choice for their customers.

ESPN and its related channels and packages are one of the more expensive set of channels available, and currently if you get basic cable a nice chunk of your bill gets sent to them. This in turn has allowed it to have a war chest that has seen it increase its power in the sports world by buying broadcast rights. If this passed and a large number of people opted out of its sports channels it would be weakened.

Also the growing number of league channels would also be potentially harmed as well. The rise of the SEC, PAC-12 and other dedicated networks has been helped by their channels getting bundled with other properties, something that the bill would outlaw. Would you pay extra year round to have a network that may broadcast only one sport that you are interested in?

However one interesting thing about the bill is that the unfettering would be voluntary, but does include some incentives to get the major players on board. There are a few sections that do appear to have some teeth in them. One of which is if networks pull their on the air broadcasts and put them on cable they would be stripped of their spectrum and the spectrum would then be sold by the FCC.

There are some other interesting tidbits in the bill including a provision that would prohibit television blackouts at publicly funded stadiums or even stadiums that have used some public funds. I am pretty sure that includes all of the NFL stadiums.

This type of a la carte push has been strongly resisted by both broadcasters and content providers and they will likely launch a strong effort to kill the bill or to at least remove its few teeth.

Watching Golf this Week: The Players Championship, with Bonus Online Video

Players logoAre you ready for the so-called “fifth major?” Do you buy any of that? I don’t, but there is no denying that the money and exposure of the Tour’s signature non-major event makes this a special weekend, maybe the biggest non-major weekend of the regular season. I tend to look at the Players as a sort of All-Star weekend — comparing it to basketball days of yore, it meant something when Magic, Michael or even Scottie Pippen rose up and dominated the All-Star event to win the MVP. It’s kind of a nice thing to have as part of an overall resume. But the Players has its share of dud winners, and dud competitions, mainly because… at the end of the day, it ain’t a major.


That said… sure we’ll be watching, a lot of it online thanks to the expanded major-like extra coverage of the Players event. Not only will there be the online simulcast of the Golf Channel and NBC coverage, but the Tour’s Live@ production returns, with coverage of everyone’s favorite island green hole, No. 17, as well as No. 13. There’s also going to be “featured groups” coverage online, just like majors like the Masters do it. And, we recently got confirmation from PGA Tour reps that in addition to Comcast subscribers, live simulcast coverage online on Thursdays and Fridays will be available also to subscribers of Verizon FiOS, Cablevision (optimum) and suddenlink. If you aren’t one of those systems’ subscribers, go to anytime this weekend and follow the links to live coverage. You can also try the main window at, I’ve been using that one and have loved that it remembers my Comcast signin so the live TV just opens up.

I’m even not going to criticize the online commercials, except for just once. Please, PGA, can’t you not hit us with 7 ads every time we log on? Several of which are repeated because that’s all the inventory you have? #endrant.

Want more cool online stuff? Try the online map feature, which I will let the PGA press release explain:

Live Maps, available for download through, features a Google map of the course that allows fans to track their favorite player from their mobile device, find the best viewing spots on the course, locate the nearest concessions, restrooms and more based on their GPS location.

We checked out Live Maps a bit last year when it was still kind of in “beta,” and found it compelling. You get a pretty cool picture (literally) of where everyone is and what they are doing. If they ever link it to live video windows… that’s nirvana.

There is also the PGA’s mobile app, but I am not recommending that unless you have Apple devices. The Android platform is hit or miss, and still has lots of forced crashes. I have no confidence that it will be fixed anytime soon, but am ready to be corrected, PGA. Try typing into your mobile device browser and see how you do. Let me know in the comments of any wins or fails.

As far as the golf goes — I am still waiting for the guy who cost me the Masters fantasy pool, Jason Dufner, to step forward this year. C’mon Duf. The laying-down thing was funny. But wouldn’t you rather be known for your golf? Tiger the bad dropper will be there, along with everyone else who is healthy and qualified. Fore, everyone.


(all times Eastern)
Thursday, May 9 — Golf Channel, 1 p.m. — 7 p.m.; 9 p.m. — 12 a.m.
Friday, May 10 — Golf Channel, 1 p.m. — 7 p.m.; 9 p.m. — 12 a.m.
Saturday, May 11 — Golf Channel, 12 p.m. — 2 p.m.; NBC, 2 p.m. — 7 p.m.
Sunday, May 12 — Golf Channel, 12 p.m. — 2 p.m.; NBC, 2 p.m. — 7 p.m.

SIRIUS XM (Satellite)
12 p.m. — 7 p.m., Thursday-Sunday. The live broadcasts are also available to subscribers on the SiriusXM Internet Radio App and online at

The PGA’s Live@ is back! Here’s the monster schedule:


Thursday, 5/9: 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
Starting at 8:39 a.m, watch the group consisting of Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy and Steve Stricker. Starting at 1:39 p.m., watch the group consisting of Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald and K.J. Choi.

Friday, 5/10: 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
Starting at 8:39 a.m., watch the group consisting of Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker. Starting at 1:39 p.m, watch the group consisting of Ernie Els, Dustin Johnson and Billy Horschel.

Saturday, 5/11: 9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
Groups to be determined

Sunday, 5/12: 9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
Groups to be determined


Thursday, 5/9: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

Friday, 5/10: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

Saturday, 5/11: 12-7 p.m.

Sunday, 5/12: 12-7 p.m.

Get another online fix via Shot Tracker for the TPC.

You can follow the Players on the PGA Tour Facebook page this weekend.


Geoff Shackelford — well known golf writer. If you’re not following Geoff you are missing the online boat.
Golf Channel — official Golf Channel feed
@PGATOUR — official PGA Twitter feed
@StephanieWei — great golf writer who is a Twitter fiend. Now leading the Wei (hah!) with Google+ Hangouts during most tourneys.
Doug Ferguson is the lead golf writer for AP. Good Twitter insights that often aren’t part of your wire-service lead.
Matt Ginella is a former Golf Digest writer now at Golf Channel. Your guide to the best golf course reviews, evar. Plus great columnist-type commentary on a regular basis.

Here is everything you ever wanted to know or see about TPC Sawgrass.

Kooch! Aka Matt Kuchar.