Masters Week Matchup: Tiger vs. Rory, the Website Battle

One of the huge themes to this year’s Masters golf tournament is how the new phenom, Rory McIlroy, will match up against the “old” phenom, Tiger Woods. With both their golf games at a high level, it should be fun to watch. Until play starts Thursday, we can see how the two golfing stars match up online, by looking at their respective websites.

We’ve always been big fans of Tiger’s site, and it is probably safe to say that Tiger was the first major sports star who forced the media to quote him off his website, instead of via direct interviews. That may also be why now you see many media types ready to kick Tiger when he is down. But the Tiger Woods website is still a great place to go to get info on all things Tiger, albeit in a very sanitized, sponsor-friendly way.

We didn’t even know that Rory McIlroy had a website but a tweet from the defending U.S. Open champ today let us know that he has a spiffy new site up, and that we probably won’t be hearing anything from McIlroy on social media the rest of the week as he starts his Masters grind:

Tiger is also active on Twitter today, talking about a great practice round with old pal Mark O’Meara and promoting a new charity effort over on Facebook. We’ll see if there are any post-round Tiger tweets as the week unfolds.

Any folks out there who like the new-look Rory site? I am more a fan of the button-down style of Tiger’s site; anytime there is too much Flash or automated stuff on a site I am turned off. Are you a fan of the new or the old? Is there some reason that using the new stuff increases traffic? Use the comments below to register your own web-design expertise.

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.

Apple Customers Get Best View of Masters Golf Online

If you are a golf fan with an iPhone or iPad, you already have a two-shot lead even before this year’s Masters Tournament kicks off on April 7. That’s because the tourney is tilted in favor of Apple devices for non-TV viewing, especially for iPad owners who will have access to a wide array of features including nine live channels via a $1.99 app, as well as “the only digital live simulcast” of CBS’s weekend coverage.

While Android device owners won’t completely miss the cut, the free official Masters Android app for non-Apple devices will only provide live scoring and radio coverage, with video available only as highlights. (A version downloaded Wednesday night to a Samsung Epic 4G from Sprint also seemed to have issues with it not being able to increase text size.)

Golf fans with iPhones, however, will have access to five live video channels on their free app, an edge that could allow iPhone users to multitask (say, at your kid’s soccer game) on Sunday and not miss any live coverage of a potentially exciting finish.

Though many fans will no doubt be glued to the TV set (since the Masters has only a couple commercials each hour it remains one of the most pure sport-watching experiences) there will likely be many more viewers watching via their PCs, thanks to the beefed-up feature set found at the site. One of the first big events to truly embrace the Internet, the Masters in 2011 will add the following online features, according to the tournament press release:

· Eight live video channels, all available in HD-quality

· DVR functionality that allows users to rewind to key moments during live action

· Exclusive live scoring with integrated leader board highlights

· The Internet’s only live, 3D video stream for users with 3D-capable computers

If you are watching via the iPad, you probably want to make sure you are doing so via a Wi-Fi connection, since extended video viewing via a 3G link could potentially burn through your monthly data download limit. But we are guessing there will be many golfing fans with both TVs and tablets ablaze during the tournament, as the multi-screen experience allows for Masters saturation far away from the hallowed fairways of Augusta.