BY BRANDON COSTA| Director of Digital | Sports Video Group
Prior to the highly anticipated PGA Championship Aug. 10-13 from Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, NC, Turner Sports and PGA of America are set to launch a completely redesigned suite of digital products and platforms that promise to deliver a fresh and engaging experience for fans.
The upgrades put even more video at the center of the experience (Turner says the amount of produced video content will quadruple over last year), and significant attention has been given to the mobile web product.
“We’ve seen a tremendous shift in the way sports fans consume sports content, particularly live events,” says Gary Treater, GM for PGA.com, Turner Sports. “We looked at this as an opportunity to start from scratch and redesign or upgrade all the digital platforms and products to address that paradigm shift and those changing patterns. We’re really excited that we’re going to be delivering a [website] and products that address those changes and make it easier for sports fans to consume the event and find the content they’re looking for.”
One aspect of user behavior that has become evident is that the leaderboard is the most popular feature of the mobile experience. However, in previous years, it proved to be a missed opportunity: users would check the leaderboard and quickly leave. This year, the goal is to make that leaderboard more interactive and spotlight more video content and links to live streaming video.
Back this year is the option to watch Featured Group channels, with each day offering complete-round coverage of four marquee pairings (two groups in the morning, two in the afternoon). Unique for this year will be live video coverage of “The Green Mile”: Quail Hollow’s infamous three-hole final stretch.
According to Turner Sports’ Director of Technical Operations Chris Brown, the Featured Group shows a complete live production with three RF cameras that are intermixed with regular broadcast coverage acquisition sources. The digital team is also able to cue up its own graphics, short feature videos, and replays to tell a unique story.
The need to provide strong, consistent experiences across all platforms is particularly critical for a multiday tournament like the PGA Championship. Many sports are designing digital experiences to cater to an individual’s viewing habits, but a follower of a major golf tournament like this one may actually touch all the platforms over the course of the event.
“[Early in the tournament], people are consuming [the event] in their office on desktop, and, as they get into the evening, they’re looking at television,” Treater explains. “On the weekends, they’re mobile, so a lot of the consumption is on devices rather than desktop computers. We’re taking all that into account and not only presenting it in a better way but creating and programming content to address those varying patterns.
“As a fan on Thursday and Friday,” he continues, “I may be sitting in my office and watching the Featured Group on my computer, but, on Saturday, I’m out with the kids at a soccer game. Maybe I don’t really have the time and attention to watch an hour of live video, but I’m still interested. So the mobile products have to deliver content in a different way than the desktop, and they have to deliver it in a different way on Saturday versus on Thursday.”
The digital team and its facilities for this event are also impressive. Upwards of 60 staffers will be onsite in Charlotte, with another 30-40 people at Turner Sports’ facility in Atlanta dedicated to digital-content production, delivery, and operations. In addition, there’s a full truck (NEP’s TS2) in the compound dedicated to the digital output, and, with the Featured Groups and The Green Mile feeds produced from there, anyone visiting the truck might think it’s a regular live linear truck.