The explosion of fantasy sports coupled with the growing trend towards legalized sports betting has caught the eye of the PGA, revealing they may be warming to both ideas as well as offering innovative broadcasting technologies.
PGA on Twitter
PGA Tour Live is a subscription service that has been up and running for almost a year and comes with a $39.99 per year price tag where golf fans can see the action before the TV networks broadcast it. However, the PGA has now unveiled its live coverage of the first two events of the FedEx Cup playoffs, marking a first ever for live sporting content being streamed on Twitter.
"It's no secret that social networks aggregate an incredible amount of audience," Louis Goicouria, the PGA Tour's senior vice president of digital platforms and media strategy, said in an interview. "For us, it's an opportunity to reach people who may not have tried this product yet. We feel it's so strong. If you're a golf fan, if you get a taste of it, you'll want it."
Yet, the shift towards employing technology as another broadcast outlet is indicative of a sea change in the organization’s view towards attracting a younger demographic, who are much more inclined to wager on golf at a sportsbook than watch a complete tournament. Golf has traditionally been the bastion of country club types and executives looking to talk shop while playing a round with a view towards having many more once they reach the clubhouse. Stodgy, antiquated and boring are words the PGA dreads and in order to appeal to an entirely newer and younger audience, they are moving towards technology and are considering other moves to vault the sport into more mainstream appeal other than the cult following it currently enjoys.
New Boss Seeks New Ideas
Two years ago NBA commissioner Adam Silver made headlines when he called for the legalization of sports gambling regulated at the federal level. It was a bold stand taken by the NBA czar and one which resonated with millions who view the current political opposition to sports gambling in much the same way US citizens of the 1920’s and early 30’s regarded Prohibition. It is a law that is of little or no concern to those who do not gamble on sports and one which reeks of a nanny state for those who do. The government lost any moral high ground it may have had when it allowed individual states to introduce the lottery, scratch tickets, and keno to its gambling starved citizenry. With the advent of daily fantasy sports (DFS) erupting onto the landscape and welcomed by, of all people, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell whose indefatigable opposition to sports gambling is well known, the demand is clearly there but so too is the arcane stigma which follows it. Adam Silver understands that DFS is tantamount to sports betting except it is on players rather than the teams on which they play.
The recently installed PGA head honcho, Jay Monahan, said he would keep an “open mind toward it” with the “it” being sports betting which would include PGA golfers. He also spoke briefly on the PGA vis a vis daily fantasy sports. “You look at [daily fantasy sports providers] DraftKings and Fan Duel, you look at gaming in the international markets, there's a lot of opportunity there," said Monahan.
Ironically, DFS is dangerously close to proposition betting at a sportsbook. The difference, of course, is that you must compile a team when playing in a DFS league versus betting on one individual to score over or under a certain amount of points. Nevertheless, money is being “wagered” on the outcome of a future event. That’s gambling and whether it’s a lottery ticket, a scratch-off, a DFS entry or a bet on a game, it’s all the same.
The PGA recognizes that allowing a financial investment on its players will generate interest from an entirely new demographic, one that is young, hip and accustomed to tuning in if there is money to be made, even if the sport they’re watching doesn’t necessarily turn them on.
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