Why Woods vs. Mickelson Showdown Could Be the Future of Sports Media
Phil Mickelson beat Tiger Woods in a pay-per-view golf match that became free to watch after AT&T Inc.’s media division was unable to process some customers’ online purchases through the digital streaming service B/R Live.
The “Tiger vs. Phil” match was made available for free online at Bleacherreport.com at some point during play Friday in Las Vegas. The golfers were vying for a US$9 million purse.
“We experienced some technical issues on B/R Live that temporarily impacted user access to the match,” said AT&T’s Turner Sports. “We’ve taken a number of steps to resolve the matter with our main priority being the delivery of content to those that have purchased the pay-per-view event.”
Telecasts on cable and satellite were unaffected.
The event was supposed to be a demo of AT&T’s newfound media prowess following its US$85 billion purchase of Time Warner, the owner of HBO, Warner Bros. and Turner Broadcasting. AT&T was charging US$19.99 and making the match available on its own pay-TV systems, as well as those operated by Comcast, Charter, Verizon and Altice.
Golf fans are some of the oldest sports audiences and AT&T saw an opportunity to attract a new generation of viewers by streaming the match, which is billed as an uncensored opportunity to see two of the sports’ most popular players up close, cursing and all.
Mickelson and Woods had been promoting the match like boxers. The PGA Tour, which sanctioned the event as a one-day exhibition, allowed the two to place side bets during play, with the proceeds earmarked for charity.