Turner Putts PGA Online

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Turner Sports is teeing up the Web for its coverage of the PGA Championship tournament later this month.

Turner’s owned-and-operated PGA.com Web site will for the first time feature a live simulcast of Turner Network Television’s Aug. 17 and Aug. 18 afternoon telecasts of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America tournament as part of a four-channel broadband video offering surrounding the last of golf’s four major tournaments.

Lenny Daniels, senior vice president of sports production and new media for Turner Sports, said the site’s PGA Championship area, dubbed Pipeline, will simulcast TNT’s coverage of the tournament’s first- and second-round from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on those days. The Web site will not run commercials from the telecast, but will insert ads from online sponsors such as Hitachi Ltd., General Motors Co.’s Buick and Travelers Corp.

ALTERNATIVE AUDIENCE

Daniels said the PGA.com simulcast will give golf fans at work or elsewhere outside the home a chance to see live tournament action, although he would not predict how many actual views Turner expects the site to yield. He also would not reveal how many views the Web site — which Turner purchased in 2003 from the PGA — generates on a weekly or monthly basis.

“We believe that whatever we do on the Internet is additive to television,” he said. “We’re really going after the at-work audience that may not have a television in the office who may want to catch some of the action on their computer. But they’ll know when they go home to tune into TNT.”

Along with the live coverage, PGA.com will Webcast a total of five additional hours of bonus coverage from the first two rounds of the championship on Aug. 17 and Aug. 18 from 12:30-2 p.m. ET, and Aug. 19 and Aug. 20 from 10-11 a.m.

Using Cable News Network’s Pipeline technology, PGA.com users will be able to pick and choose from three different video streams covering different facets of the tournament.

Along with the primary stream featuring the TNT simulcast, the second stream, the Player Cam, will allow viewers to follow the designated group of four golfers chosen by the network as they attempt to climb the leader board, according to Daniels.

A third stream, Inside the Ropes, will give visitors front-row seats to PGA Championship press conferences, as well as some exclusive course flyovers, player profiles and historical PGA Championship moments.

The fourth stream will offer instruction from PGA director of instruction Rick Martino and other noted PGA instructors.

While the instructional stream will mostly feature pre-taped segments, Daniels said Turner will periodically break in to explain how a particular shot was made during the tournament.

“It will give the stream a little more timeliness, than just a loop of instructional video,” Daniels said.

The site will also feature a video-on-demand area where Turner will immediately post great shots and other top video from the tournament played that day.

NASCAR NEXT?

Daniels said Turner Sports will look for other simulcast opportunities for its sports-related programming. The most probable would be its auto racing coverage since Turner operates the NASCAR.com site.

Under the renewal contract signed with NASCAR that begins next year, Turner, as one of the circuit’s TV partners, will hold the right to simulcast the races on broadband.

In a recent interview, Turner Sports president David Levy said the company had not yet decided whether it will simulcast race streams on broadband next year.

But Daniels anticipates that some kind of video will be delivered.

“We’re definitely going to create broadband networks and decide how to handle video on that site,” he said.

“We’re also going to talk to the other [NASCAR] TV partners to make sense of everything because we feel that they should be on NASCAR.com as well.”

In other Turner Sports news, TNT will launch its 23rd season of National Basketball Association coverage with a Halloween night doubleheader. TNT’s Oct. 31 Chicago Bulls-Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns-Los Angeles Lakers telecasts will open the network’s 52-game NBA 2006-07 regular season telecast schedule, according to the network.

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