This year has been a big year for Discovery Inc. in golf, as it launched GolfTV in January in partnership with the PGA Tour – a 12-year strategic alliance – and acquired Golf Digest in May.
As the expertise from Golf Digest is integrated into Discovery Golf’s ecosystem, the development of GolfTV from a nascent platform to one with international appeal for golf fans worldwide is well underway, said Alex Kaplan, president and general manager of Discovery Golf.
“It’s been great, but it’s still the early days as we integrate GolfTV and the more established Golf Digest,” Kaplan said. “Overall, we’re really, really pleased on several fronts. The team we acquired, we knew their reputation, but the level of expertise that exists is awesome.”
With that level of expertise, Kaplan said Discover Golf knows it needs to provide more opportunity for that knowledge base and push the content globally. Likewise, the established Golf Digest’s digital platform acts as a “giant funnel” with the number of unique visitors into the rest of the content the business is creating. Key to that business is new original content to keep golf fresh, while still appealing to traditional golf enthusiasts.
GolfTV’s push forward is fueled by new programming, specifically My Game: Tiger Woods and October’s The Challenge: Japan Skins.
Japan Skins will pit the four premier golfers – Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama – from the four biggest golf continents. The competition is meant to provide viewers with a new golf format while helping increase the draw from an international audience.
The challenge will be played on October 21, the Monday prior to the first-ever PGA Tour event in Japan. It’s the first of a likely annual series of challenge events.
“We were encouraged by the match with Tiger and Phil,” Kaplan said. “It wasn’t distributed outside the U.S. and there were some challenges, but the level of interest and number of people who tuned in was compelling.”
While keeping things close to the vest to unveil during the broadcast, Kaplan said there will be plenty of aspects that will help make the Japan Skins compelling, including unique hole challenges.
Along with working with the PGA Tour, GolfTV producers also worked with Woods’ team to iron out the details for the event, which will have a total purse of $350,000.
Woods’ team and his partnership with Golf Digest was also key to the launch of the 12-part video series My Game: Tiger Woods. The episodes are 10-minutes long and available on the Golf Digest website and on GolfTV internationally.
“One of the elements of our deal with him was creating an engaging, fun instructional platform that was digital-first,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan said through working with Woods and his team, the series received an honest and raw version of the golfer who opens up about his psychological approach and how it has shifted through his career, along with the actual physical approach to golf.
“This is my first complete guide on how I think and prepare for every shot, every hole and every round, from my perspective,” Woods said in August. “I’m so excited to share my thoughts on the way I play and think about the game. My approach has evolved over the years, but the fundamentals my dad taught me have remained the same. For the first time, I will share them in a way that all golfers – from beginners to experienced players – can enjoy.”
My Game has helped keep traffic numbers up, even outside the PGA Tour season, when the site typically sees a decrease, Kaplan said. The new, original content is also helping drive both subscribers and sponsors.
“It’s a dual revenue stream between advertising and subscriptions,” Kaplan said. “That is our business model and ultimately. These types of things we make bets on have to have a benefit.
Both the Challenge and My Game series are expected to be made again next year, along with potential new content to help drive traffic. While the content is original, Kaplan said the goal is to ensure it’s improved upon with insight from subscribers and consumers.
“We don’t want to tell people what to like, but we have to sometimes show them something new,” he said. “We’re focused on executing what’s in front of us, but Discovery is all in on golf and we’re happy with the performance so far. We have big plans and want to do more, but we have to do right with what we have.”