Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Disc Golf Media - Are We Moving The Sport In The Right Direction?

Shortly before 2019's USDGC the event made an announcement detailing media plans the event. We couldn’t help but take a moment to think about how much the sport is changing. Ten years ago, watching disc golf on YouTube was a coveted benefit that players obsessed over, and even farther back in time, it wasn’t uncommon to purchase a DVD that highlighted a huge event during that year.

Now that technology has changed so much, it’s only natural to have much higher expectations when it comes to tournament coverage. However, it seems that with each change or new partnership, there’s a growing number of players who are becoming dissatisfied. Is this a case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease, or are media efforts actually driving a wedge in the sport?

Is Pay-per-view the answer?

You may not know what we’re referencing with regard to the USDGC news, so let’s touch on that first. This year, the tournament crew decided to develop a pay-per-view situation with Fulcrum Media. For $9.99, or $7.99 if you’re a current PDGA member, you could watch lead coverage of rounds 2, 3, and 4. Commentary was provided by Jamie Thomas of SpinTV, Hannah McBeth, and the famous Ken Climo.

For those who aren’t willing to dish out any cash, post-produced coverage of all four rounds was available online, with SpinTV tackling the lead card and Jomez Pro on the chase card. They were shorter Front 9 and Back 9 videos and featured Thomas on commentary for the lead rounds and “BigSexy” once again partnering with Jomez.

Is This Progress?

A quick review of the feedback online after the news was released of this year’s media plan caused many to scratch their heads, wondering if the pay-per-view idea is a step in the right direction or if it’s actually turning people off from watching. Other well-known sports utilize this method in order for fans to watch, however, free versions of shorter coverage aren’t typically an option in these cases. After all, it is a fair question - will that many people want to pay for instant gratification when something very similar will be available for free the next day?

Some would rather put their hard-earned money toward disc purchases to bolster those companies who are helping to grow the sport, while other players are pointing to the previous quality of coverage in years past and are wondering why they would pay for something that they’re expecting to be sub-par. Sure, any change that involves money often brings out the naysayers who think that the fee is simply to line people’s pockets, but putting on a first-class live event requires more time and money than many realize.

The Future Of The Sport

Ultimately, we have to wonder if this step toward pay-per-view coverage is simply irritating to die-hard fans who are used to getting everything for free but could pay off by attracting new viewers to the game. Or, is it a matter of simply trying something new just to see how it goes and players should be a bit more understanding? Did you pay to watch the live USDGC coverage? Was it worth it? Did you opt to not pay to watch live coverage and just waited for the free post-produced coverage? Let us know why you did or did not pay for live coverage?
  1. I was there in person for rounds 3 and 4 so I wasn't interested in the pay-per-view. I did watch all four rounds of both the Spin TV and JoMez post produced coverage. For what it's worth I thought JoMez was a much better product than Spin TV. I think the only way I would pay for coverage was if it was the only way to see the event.

  2. I rarely watch live coverage. The post produced YouTube coverage has been a real blessing. It seems like Jomez is making a go of it with Patreon and YouTube ad revenue, but I imagine it's still a struggle to make the numbers work.

    I'd love to see DD get into more post-produced coverage (and I love Robert McCall in the booth), but I'm not likely to do a Patreon kind of thing for DD since I already support through merchandise buys.

  3. I'm not interested in live coverage in it's current format, but I do voraciously watch compressed next-day coverage. While I have donated to people like CCDG and Jomez in the past, and would consider a subscription for such coverage, but I feel like attempting to emulate traditional sports media is a mistake. I feel like the market is different, and far more global than most traditional sports.

    I do think the finance of coverage is not in a great place right now, and I do think the entire model of how that works should be evaluated. With the current status quo I suspect the winners are mostly manufacturers, similar to how League of Legends is primarily a vehicle to sell skins, disc golf coverage right now is primary going to drive sales of "Eagles mid range from that one hole" or "Paul's shoes", etc.

  4. I paid the $7.99 for the coverage and then also attended the events for round 3 and 4. I listed to round 2 coverage at work on Thursday, but never opened it again. The coverage I listed to was good and was a nice distraction at work. I mainly purchased it as I want to support any media coverage that we get. Jomez does some of the best coverage out there and they do a lot better than Spin TV. I am a Patron for Jomezpro as I don't mind paying the $5 a month for great coverage.

  5. I was at the tournament on Saturday and had to work Thursday and Friday, but I still paid for the coverage. (I may or may not have been watching at work :P)

    It was worth every bit of $8! The live drone shots were amazing and the commentary was very good. I'd do it again.

  6. I paid my 10 bucks and I felt it was worth it based on the drama coming down at the end of the final round. Had it been a blowout I may not have thought the same, but who knows, I enjoy watching disc golf and if I got to pitch in a little to maybe ensure better coverage in the future, then I don't mind paying. Yeah overall it was good coverage and commentary so I'd probably do it again without hesitation.

  7. I was surprised they didn't try to go for more of a bundle where you got a player pack essentially AND live Pay Per View. I might've bought that even if I didn't actually watch the PPV (which I really couldn't much as I was traveling). Did it come with access to rewatch later? If not, that's a huge gap.

    PPV is going to be a tough sell as the rounds last a LONG time compared to everyone's base / more common experience being super clean and usually well-commented Jomez/CCDG half-rounds.
    Also, I'm curious if the Fulcrum overall production and commenting quality was much better than recent DGPT efforts? I'm such a huge fan, that I watch DGPT if I can and am not THAT picky about production value, but objectively comparing it to ball golf live coverage and the production quality of massive sports enterprises, it can be a bit rough. There just isn't the money for on the fly fancy graphics, shot break downs, multiple live video feeds, professionally trained and experienced commentators, professional and experience media production teams, etc, etc, etc.

  8. Also, doesn't Pay Per View of live events sort of counter the main goal of most DG media to grow the sport and get MORE eyes on it?