PGATour.com Goes Hole-by-Hole for Tiger Coverage
By Carolyn Braff
Tiger Woods returned to the links at this week’s World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, and PGATour.com celebrated with a record-breaking day of online video coverage, streaming 2.5 million videos on the opening day of play, Wednesday Feb. 25. Woods lost on Thursday, but anchoring the streaming content was innovative hole-by-hole coverage that brought fans closer to the action by serving up online highlights from every hole, complete with graphics and announcers.
“We publish all the holes manually, so it is not an automated process,” explains Craig Barry, SVP of content and creative for Turner Sports, co-producer of PGATour.com in conjunction with the PGA. “Essentially, we take a direct feed over the air, a backhaul and a front haul, from the Golf Channel, bring it directly into a server, and then we have two different Apple Final Cut editing stations set up.”
Those two stations alternate the editing process on a hole-by-hole basis, and once the content is edited, talent adds a voiceover, and the video is published as quickly as possible, to keep the clips flowing into the site at as close to real time as possible.
“We add an intro and an outro, and our graphics are rendered directly in Final Cut,” Barry explains. “Whether it’s a graphic to designate the hole or something that helps provide the storyline, we add graphic elements on top of the video, and then obviously a PGA Tour outro, as well.”
A half dozen operators work to manually publish the clips throughout the tournament, encoding the video, sending it over to Web-development technicians who publish the content, and then adding in graphics.
“Based on the storyline, we may have been showing hole one, or we may have been showing holes two through five, and then leave an eagle by itself on hole six,” Barry explains. “We are journalistically deciding on the fly how we are going to put the holes together from a storyline basis, and that’s why it can’t really be automated. The Web-development guys are actually in there and publishing up to the site manually.”
For this tournament, all the streaming efforts for PGATour.com are produced out of Turner’s studios in Atlanta. Because the Golf Channel is on-site providing comprehensive coverage, it did not make sense for Turner to roll in its own streaming truck.
“If we were in a scenario where we had decided that we potentially would not be able to see every shot,” Barry says, “we would have sent a remote truck or some kind of remote system to the site.”
With more than 1 million unique users on day 1, the second-largest day ever behind the U.S. Open playoff between Woods and Rocco Mediate (1.5 million) last June 16, PGATour.com’s coverage this week has so far been a resounding success.
“It is a really interesting and innovative way to do coverage, and there aren’t many times that we have the opportunity to do something like this,” Barry explains. “We try to find the most innovative way to cover an event without affecting the live television coverage but being able to cater a great experience to the consumer. I think that we accomplished that, certainly by the numbers alone.”