The PGA Tour is taking its standalone streaming service, PGA Tour Live, to bars and restaurants for the first time – a move expected to increase revenue for the platform by expanding its user base outside of residential homes.
North America’s chief governing body for golf expects to bring the game to thousands of more screens across the U.S. and has partnered with Joe Hand Promotions, a legacy distributor of sporting content for commercial businesses, to accomplish that.
Tour events will begin streaming live in commercial venues on January 16 during The American Express tournament in La Quinta, California.
All PGA Tour Live subscriptions for business owners will be sold according to a tiered-pricing model based on venue size, the PGA Tour said. Under this format, the more screens a business has, the higher price owners will pay. PGA Tour Live for consumers will remain at $10 per month or $65 per year.
“PGA Tour Live has been extremely successful from a direct-to-consumer perspective,” said Chris Wandell, vice president of business development at the PGA Tour. “We think the service is a benefit for a different audience segment, specifically the hardcore fan with two streams up from 7 a.m. through the end of the day.”
PGA Tour Live is currently available to stream through Discovery overseas and either NBC Sports Gold or Amazon Prime Video in the U.S. By expanding PGA Tour Live to commercial venues – offering 34 total events – both the PGA Tour and its domestic partners expect a consequential ripple effect that will lead to more subscriber growth from average consumers.
“Our assumption is that fans sitting in an Applebee’s with PGA Tour Live on at 11 a.m. will want to figure out how to watch the service on their device and at what price,” said Wandell, adding that less competition from other sports at noon on a Thursday or Friday when golf is on most of the day will greatly benefit the service’s growth.
Wandell would not disclose current subscriber numbers but did say that one-quarter of PGA Tour Live’s user base watches golf on the service more than six hours per week. All live content on PGA Tour Live is created by the PGA Tour’s in-house production studio, PGA Entertainment, and the Golf Channel.
According to Will McIntosh, executive vice president of NBC Sports digital and consumer business, PGA Tour Live is also just as popular as other offerings available on NBC Sports Gold, including the English Premier League, Premier Lacrosse League, and rugby.
Golf Channel, which is owned by NBC, is closing in on the end of its first year partnering with the PGA Tour on its streaming service. The network was also present at negotiations with Joe Hand Promotions. McIntosh said the goal of negotiations was to reach more fans of the sport by getting inside commercial establishments. This includes not only bars and restaurants but also private golf clubs.
“PGA Tour Live has been mostly non-commercially focused and our goal was to create a compelling partnership to elevate the brand,” he said.
PGA Tour Live is not exactly an over-the-top streaming service taking on cable directly. Instead, it is a complimentary streaming option for golf fans that allows viewers to watch every shot taken by their favorite players. Golf telecasts normally spread the wealth across multiple golfers or may miss a player’s competitive round altogether.
“We effectively move consumers back-and-forth between PGA Tour Live and NBC telecasts,” said McIntosh. “Television is significant to what we are doing now and in the future. We would only enter an agreement with the PGA Tour if we deemed PGA Tour Live complementary to our business.”
Scheduling changes implemented by the PGA Tour this season, which added tournaments in the fall and moved The Players Championship back to March, have also helped grow the appeal of PGA Tour Live, he added.
Every shot at the upcoming 2020 Players Championship this spring will be streamed live for the first time on the service as a bit of an innovation experiment using more than 100 cameras and 24 live video feeds.
“The schedule changes have only been positive across the board,” McIntosh said. “We are very aligned with The PGA Tour on scheduling changes and what they are trying to accomplish there.”