Viewers flock to on-air and digital PGA Championship broadcasts

turnersp

The Turner Sports decision to present an aggressive online presence for the PGA Championship as well as strong over the air coverage resulted in strong results as the event sees big growth in viewership in both areas.

The over the air broadcast of the 2013 PGA Championship from the Oak Hill Country Club East Course in Pittsford, N.Y., shown on TNT received the network’s highest rating for the event in 3 years with an average of 1.6 million viewers, up 54% from last year. It had an average of 1.2 U.S. house hold rating, a 50% increase from last year.

Probably as no surprise most of the top regions in terms of viewership are also hot golfing destinations and all rated much higher than the national average. They were markets for all four rounds of coverage on TNT were Las Vegas (2.7), West Palm Beach (2.6), Columbus (2.4), Greenville, S.C. (2.4) and Orlando (2.3).

While the broadcast numbers were strong, the digital numbers were even stronger, showing that there is a large market that wants to experience sporting events but often cannot get away to view them on television.

The PGA.Com umbrella that handles both mobile and broadband streaming delivery was up 69% during the Championship and live streaming hours across platforms are up 85% compared with 2012.

Turner Sports Goes All-in On PGA Championship Coverage

pga

The 95th PGA Championship is being held at the Oak Hill Country Club’s East Course in Rochester, N.Y. and if you cannot catch any (or all) of TNT’s 18 hours of broadcast coverage there are other options that will enable you to stay abreast of the tournament.

Turner Sports is seeking to provide one of the broadest multimedia sports presentations possible with its coverage of the PGA Championship starting tomorrow, the 23rd consecutive year that the network has covered the event.

There is first off PGA.Com, an online site that provides users with a variety of features about the event but possibly the most important for remote fans is that it provides live streaming via PGA Championship Live. It is designed for not only PC users but also available on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.

Among the features available from the app are a 360-degree camera that provides a panoramic view of the course and it has the ability to allow users to move the camera to get a view that matches their desire (aside from being there live). Fans can also look for highlights via its Video Highlight Hub so that they can witness all of the top moments and will allow fans to search and browse by player, round, hole or top moment from the 2013 PGA Championship.

For desktop users there is also a function that provides bird’s eye view of the interaction between players with an enhanced leaderboard that not only provides scores and highlights but also players interaction with each other around each hole

For mobile users there are also some specific features available as Turner has expanded its app from last year and added Android support in addition to the existing iOS features, although they offer slightly different features. For iOS users the user news, video alerts, detailed leaderboard and scorecards and access to live video streaming. The mobile web site will also offer live video, score updates and other news.

pick

Turner is not forgetting social media and has a number of new, improved or returning features. In the new category s Twitter Mirror showing shots and comments from players that fans can view @PGA.Com. Twitter will also be showing video highlights at the Twitter address and fans can participate in join a chat site that will include journalists and players at #PGAChamp.

Turner is also offering a variety of extras such as Predict It, an interactive tournament prediction feature and “PGA Championship Pick the Hole Location Challenge Hosted by Jack Nicklaus” that will enable fans to select the location of the famous Par 3 on the 15th hole.

Contest Could Get You into PGA Championship

pga

The 95th annual PGA Championship is the last major of the season and will be held this year at the Oak Hill Country Club up in the Town of Pittsford, NY and the PGA is holding a contest that could allow you (if you win) access to the course.

On the face of it it looks simple, which always means that it will be much tougher than I imagine. The contest is called the PGA Championship Reporter Contest and all you need to do is tell the PGA why you should be reporting from the links for that event.

The PGA is looking for three criteria in an entry. They are quality of entry, originality of entry and number of votes that the entry receives. The PGA’s rules do not tell what or how votes are accumulated.

From the entries there will be ten selected as finalists on May 13, of which four will make the cut. Each of the ten will then create a one minute video that has you explaining why you should be the person selected for the event.

The four winners will be announced Thursday, May 30 and will have the privilege to report from the Oak Hill Country club during PGA Championship week, August 5-11. The PGA emphasizes that this is a voluntary position and that it does not provide any compensation aside from course access.

If your entry is not selected you can always consider other contests that accept written essays such as the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Just do not use “It was a dark and stormy night” I am pretty sure that it has already been used.

Early Sunday Start for PGA Championship on TNT, also Online; Players Turn to Twitter to Amuse Themselves

With the rain interrupting Saturday’s third round of the PGA Championship things will get a much earlier start than planned Sunday, with golfers finishing up the third round starting at 7:45 a.m. Eastern Time. According to the PGA’s Twitter stream, the broadcast coverage on TNT will start at 8 a.m. Eastern, and the online stream (which will follow Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh as the “featured” group) will start airing at 7:40 a.m. Just like the British Open, early weekend golf! CBS should still come on at 2 p.m. Eastern, weather permitting. Let’s see if they can finish before dark.

I have to say I’ve been impressed by the PGA’s online efforts so far. Though it still doesn’t match the Masters when it comes to online screen choices (there is only one “marquee group” on at any time, plus coverage of the par 3 holes plus the ability to see the CBS broadcast when CBS is live), I do like the timeline below the viewing screen that lets you go back to watch highlights. And I will call the Social Caddy page a success — I was getting set to rip it this morning because it looked like the PGA was keeping out any negative commenters, but by Saturday afternoon I saw more than a few tweets about how pathetically bad the shuttle system was to get fans and media in and out of Kiawah.

Apparently there is only one road out to the island, leading to all kinds of traffic jams and a cavalcade of woe-is-us tweets from the golfing media, who have to endure the horrors of hours-long shuttle rides to and from the course. While it’s doubtful that anyone feels at all sorry for golf writers it has made for some entertaining reading. And it’s cool that the PGA isn’t trying to stop or police it on the Social Caddy site. Here’s USA Today writer Steve DiMeglio with a good line:

Of course one of the funniest PGA-related Twitter exchanges was taking place between Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Jason Dufner. If you’ve been following this trio you know that they love to just play around by ripping each other… relax folks it’s all a joke. Gotta love Bubba posting what looks like an old photo of Dufner:

Nothing like a little downtime and a good Internet connection.

PGA’s Mobile Device Policies a Bit At Odds With Tourney’s Online Promotions

The golf hasn’t started yet but as we look through the spectator guide for the PGA Championship we ran across the mobile device policy, which seems pretty sound. Turn your phone to vibrate, you can check data and send messages, just no picture-taking during the golf. And certainly no video. Otherwise you will be asked to surrender your device, which you can then pick up later you naughty online phone user, you.

Of course, this rule will apparently NOT apply to PGA staffers, since the championship is making a big deal of its social media coolness this weekend in Kiawah. The tournament even has an Instagram page and will be hosting some fun Viddy videos, probably shot on phones. Just not on fan phones. So, yes, the PGA Championship is into social media. Just not any social media created by, you know, people.

Scrolling down a bit on the user guide we see that the PGA is suggesting that folks leave distracting items at home like dogs and milk crates, as well as iPods and iPads. But the news release for the tournament’s digital coverage notes that a lot of items will be designed to take advantage of the iPad:

Optimized for iPad – the official PGA Championship site and PGA Championship LIVE will be optimized for the iPad. The site and video player will take advantage of the iPad’s large, multi-touch display to provide fans an enriched viewing experience.

Seems like with the inevitable rain delays, an iPad could be a handy thing to have out there on the island. So don’t bring it. But if you do, enjoy the iPad optimization.

Our favorite bit from the user guide, however, has nothing to do with digital — unless it’s the digits on your hands that you save by not being utterly stupid:

DANGER FROM WILDLIFE
Please do not disturb or feed alligators, snakes or other
natural wildlife while on the grounds of the Ocean Course.
Use caution when walking in areas near ponds and tall grasses.

I’d watch out for Tigers too. They tend to attract big crowds, and will turn on anyone using a camera phone to record their brush with greatness.

Watching Golf this Week: The PGA Championship

Good news first: The 94th running of the PGA Championship will have a boatload of online and viewing options, and all kinds of web-enabled goodies to allow you to enjoy the year’s last major from the comfort of your desk, laptop, or iPhone or iPad. (Here’s the link to live video.) The bad news? It may not wrap up until Monday given the probability of thunderstorms likely to hit the Island Course in Kiawah, South Carolina. At least during the inevitable rain delays, you will have all kinds of diversions like the PGA’s new Social Caddy page to let you watch Twitter streams of players and caddies waiting out the rain.

A quick note on the online stuff — though we had written before that the PGA Tour and Turner Sports were parting ways, the relationship between Turner and the PGA Championship is a different beast — and as such Turner will be pulling out all the stops with TNT coverage Thursday, Friday and before CBS on the weekends, and a whole bunch of good website stuff, including lots of photos and videos.

Several things that we are going to look closely at for the live online video (which starts at 8:30 a.m. Eastern on Thursday and Friday) are the multiple camera views and featured groups that Turner says we’ll be able to follow online. We were disappointed at the U.S. Open’s somewhat limited online options, so let’s see if Turner can do better at the PGA. So far, the Masters is still far and away the online king of majors. We are heavily disappointed that the PGA app is iPhone only — c’mon folks, there are a heckuva lot of Android phones out there. Bad form to not have an Android app ready. Like in gymnastics, we’re taking a full point deduction there.

As for the actual golf… once again it really is all about Tiger, and whether or not he can get the job done at a major. Kiawah really doesn’t suit his perfectionist game — weirdo target golf — but when he is on, he really is the Usain Bolt of golf. I think it’s good to note here that had he not three-putted on that disaster bunker hole and not gone over the green on the par-3, Tiger would be your defending British Open champion. Just saying, the guy didn’t have anything near his “A” game and he still almost took the jug. He’s still the rock lock on my ESPN Fantasy team, but behind him I see… maybe Jason Dufner? An incredibly consistent year and good performances in the majors. Like last year, he could be standing near the end while others are falling.

Who else? I like Dustin Johnson’s ability but fear that Dustin is his own biggest enemy. At least there are no sand-trap rules for Johnson to worry about. Unlike the PGA two years ago where there were bunkers everywhere, there is a lot of sand at Kiawah but… according to some weird rule none of the sand is a bunker. So expect to see a lot of guys grounding their clubs, and a million calls to the PGA offices to follow. Watch the video and learn why it’s not a problem.

Finally my dark horse pick: Someone who historically plays well in South Carolina coastal courses, someone who has been surprisingly sharp at times this year… while he puts together his Ryder Cup team. That’s right, I am giving some love to the Captain, DLIII, Davis Love the Thirdly, to find another rainbow and win a second major in the gloaming of his career. I watched Love for a hole at Olympic during the Open, and his game seemed anything but old, striping a 2-iron off the tee and outhitting a younger playing partner who went 3-wood. Nice. In reality Love will probably be on the sidelines Saturday and Sunday, watching to see if Phil Mickelson can give him a reason to make him a captain’s pick for the Ryder roster. Enough Olympics already. Let’s get this war by the shore started.

Here’s where to follow the action:

94th PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

(all times Eastern)
TV COVERAGE
Thursday, Aug. 9 — TNT, 1 p.m. — 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 10 — TNT, 1 p.m. — 7 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 11 — TNT, 11 a.m. — 2 p.m. — 7 p.m.; CBS, 2 p.m. — 7 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 12 — TNT, 11 a.m. — 2 p.m. — 7 p.m.; CBS, 2 p.m. — 7 p.m.

RADIO
SIRIUS XM (Satellite)
Coverage starts at 12 p.m. Thursday & Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

ONLINE
As we said above, there is going to be a lot of online video, including marquee groups, par 3 coverage and press conferences. HERE IS THE LIVE VIDEO PAGE.

PGA SHOT TRACKER
No Shot Tracker this week.

FACEBOOK PAGE
If it looks like the beach, it’s the PGA Facebook page for Kiawah.

TOP TWITTER FEEDS TO FOLLOW

HASHTAG FOR THE PGA IS: #PGAChamp

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. Who won’t be going back to Akron anytime soon.
Doug Ferguson is the lead golf writer for AP. Good Twitter insights that often aren’t part of your wire-service lead.

WHAT’S THE COURSE LIKE?
You’re kidding, right? Like you haven’t heard of the Island Course. Or seen numerous recaps of The War by the Shore. Well here is the official page, knock yourself out.

WHO WON THIS THING LAST YEAR?
Keegan “long putter” Bradley. Outlasting our man Duf.

FEDEX CUP LEADERS
1. Tiger Woods, 2,204 points
2. Zach Johnson, 2,018
3. Jason Dufner, 1,983
4. Hunter Mahan, 1,739
5. Bubba Watson, 1,712

See the full standings for the FedEx Cup points list.

WORLD GOLF RANKINGS
1. Luke Donald; 2. Tiger Woods; 3. Rory McIlroy; 4. Lee Westwood; 5. Webb Simpson.
See the official World Golf Ranking list.