Tiger-Phil Event a Win For PPV Industry Despite Streaming Debacle

Better than expected PPV orders provide opening for future non-ring sports events
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The now infamous technical glitches that ultimately made the Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson Black Friday pay-per-view golf event a free-per-view event weren't a total bogey for the industry.

Yes, the match failed to deliver reported millions of dollars from PPV buys for the category after most PPV distributors offered refunds to viewers purchasing the event due to OTT streaming service Bleacher Report Live's decision to put the $19.95 event in the clear for its subscribers after suffering through technical issues delivering the live golf match. 

But the silver lining for the Turner Sports-distributed event-- which pitted two of the most popular and successful golfers of this generation against one another -- is that it ended up generating better than expected PPV orders from both the traditional cable and digital streaming side, according to sources close to the situation. No official PPV buy tally for the event was available at press time. 

Tiger-Phil artwork

While the PPV numbers for Tiger vs Phil will not come anywhere near that of 2015's industry record- setting Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight, industry observers say the performance does bodes well for the much-needed expansion of the PPV event category beyond boxing and mixed martial arts in terms of the category's ability to attract viewers to a non-ring sports event.

Traditional cable, satellite and telco distributors did not report any technical glitches offering the event, in which Mickelson defeated Woods in 22 holes of golf competition. Nevertheless, most distributors provided rebates to consumers after Turner Sports’ upstart Bleacher Report Live streamed the event free to its subscribers due to technical glitches that kept paying viewers from watching the golf competition.

The streaming of live pay-per-view sports events is still in an infancy stage, so inevitably technical problems can and will occur. PPV event distributors say a small percentage of overall PPV buys for big events are generated from streaming services, but when technological issues pop up during marquee events like Tiger vs. Phil or last year’s Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor mega fight, the category’s growing pains are magnified.

Unfortunately, Bleacher Report Live’s glitch and Turner’s decision to pull the event from behind B/R Live’s pay wall -- and the subsequent refunds offered by cable, satellite and telco distributors -- all but wiped out any chance of the event generating significant revenue from PPV transactions.

Once the smoke clears however, the PPV industry might eventually view the Tiger vs Phil PPV event as a success in bringing new viewers to category. That will hopefully encourage Turner Sports and other content producers to consider offering unique and potentially attractive sports events to the PPV category. 

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