Why Twitter’s PGA golf-streaming deal is really odd

Angus Kidman 6 January 2017 NEWS

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With just 2 of 18 holes covered, why would this be anyone's first viewing choice?

This morning, Twitter sent out a press release announcing it had a new global deal to provide streaming from the PGA Tour, the biggest US professional golf event. At first glance, you might think this was just another sign of sporting rights moving away from free-to-air and pay TV broadcasters to technology companies, something that's been evident in Australia most recently with Optus' deal to stream the EPL to its customers. However, the actual deal does more to emphasise how fiercely those rights are still being fought over.

Here's what Twitter will actually be offering, direct from its release:

Coverage typically will include the first 60 to 90 minutes from the early Thursday and Friday morning hours of PGA TOUR LIVE's Over-The-Top (OTT) subscription window, on a global basis. This coverage will include pre-game analysis, interviews, range coverage, and live competition from the first two holes of each day's PGA TOUR LIVE Marquee Groups.

Put more simply: you get a lot of chat and the first two holes, at best. To see anything else live, you'll still need to have access to the appropriate subscription channel (in Australia, unsurprisingly, that's FOX Sports). Why would Twitter sign up for something so minimalist? The simple answer: because the existing rights deals preclude anything else happening, and they'll be worth more money. Sport is a business, not a service. But if you're a golfing enthusiast, it's hard to see why you'd bother with this.

Twitter is no stranger to sports streaming. Last year, it signed a deal to broadcast the Melbourne Cup around the world. Relatively speaking, that made far more sense: for most people, that's the only part of the Spring Racing Carnival that matters. The PGA deal seems a lot further away from being a hole-in-one.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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