PGA Tour Goes Social With Millennials via Skratch TV

Reaching the millennial generation, arguably the most “on the go” generation ever when it comes to consuming content, continues to be one of the more vexing problems facing sports networks and leagues. The PGA Tour’s Skratch TV is the latest online video network looking to fill the millennial’s “need for speed” via videos designed not only to be consumed quickly but also to be shared quickly via social-media networks.

At the center of the offering is Bedrocket Media Ventures, a New York City-based online media-production company founded by Brian Bedol, former owner of Classic Sports Network and College Sports Television. The company’s team of 50 staffers is focused squarely on creating videos that are ready for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social-media and video-consumption avenues.

“Our philosophy is to make sure content is authentic, shareable, and appropriate for the platform it is going on,” says Stefan Van Engen, SVP, programming and production, Bedrocket Media Ventures. “It’s more important that it hits those three boxes for the growing audience.”

A from-the-bunker shot in Bedrocket Media Ventures’ 40-second video Rickie Fowler

A from-the-bunker shot in Bedrocket Media Ventures’ 40-second video Rickie Fowler

The PGA Tour isn’t the first sports entity to tap Bedrocket Media Ventures. The company also powers the Major League Soccer (MLS) YouTube channel, KickTV, and Network A, a global multiplatform media property focused on action sports.

“Our expertise is reaching a young, mobile audience,” notes Van Engen, “and that led to the conversations with the PGA Tour.”

Bedrocket’s team comprises about 50 staffers who make use of Adobe Premiere nonlinear editing software, in-house camera packages, a green-screen studio, and, of course, non-traditional video-acquisition tools like GoPro and cellular cameras to capture authentic video.

What makes for authentic video? Van Engen points to the experience of Formula Drift driver Ryan Tuerck.

“He had some great video ideas and wanted to know how he could get them out there,” says Van Engen, “so we developed a series called Tuerck’d.”

The result is a series of five- to 10-minute videos that have been the backbone of a personal social-media video channel and increased off-track popularity for Tuerck that outweighs his on-track success.

The game of golf has similar personalities as well as a strong contingent of young players like Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, and Jordan Spieth, who are perfect subjects because, as millennials themselves, they fully grasp what it is their generation wants out of media content.

“As partners, we love the game of golf, and this is about telling stories,” says Van Engen. “We are being selective about what we do and putting things out that people care about at that moment. We don’t lack for high-quality video content that can be shared with and resonates with an audience.”

The challenge with video in a social-media landscape is to be able to react quickly to potential storylines.

“It’s not just clipping highlights,” says Van Engen. “For example, when John Daly recently had one of his best rounds [in years], we created a piece that showed his pants through the years and was 19 seconds long and then cut down to six seconds for Vine.”

Other recent highlights include a 50-second package on Davis Love III, which offered six things about the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, or a 40-second video of Fowler captured using GoPro cameras placed everywhere from in a bunker to in the hole. Then there was the one-minute tribute to the golf balls lost in 2014, which played off the Oscars’ in memoriam tribute.

“You produce a good story and then get it into the places the millennials are sharing it by uploading it natively to each platform,” adds Van Engen.

In terms of creating the content, the biggest difference from traditional content is the lack of off-camera voices directing and producing the segment.

“Social is about connecting directly to the fan and not getting in the way of the golfers, and athletes’ talking directly to the fans,” says Van Engen. “There is still room for more produced pieces that check the boxes of being fun content.”