PGA TOUR Partners With Xumo for Big-Screen Experience

Targeting the casual fan, the free channel offers streamed and on-demand content

PGA TOUR is adding one more option to its digital efforts: a recently launched Xumo channel. Xumo offers streaming channels to TV viewers and currently has placement on LG, Hisense, Sharp, Vizio, and Panasonic sets. PGA TOUR’s channel provides a combined streaming/on-demand experience: turn it on, and there’s already content playing, so viewers don’t need to make a choice right away. But there’s also an on-demand library of curated content, if they want to go looking. The channel is free and could help transition casual fans into paying customers.

The PGA TOUR’s Xumo channel is intended to get casual fans interested enough to become subscribers.

“Not everybody has access to cable,” explains Chris Wandell, VP, media business development, PGA TOUR. “When we think about trying to serve fans who might have cut the cord or might never have subscribed to cable, this a way that we can reach them, convert them into PGA TOUR fans, and either get them to subscribe to PGA TOUR Live or get them to go buy a cable subscription so they can watch our best content on the Golf Channel.”

There’s live content on the Xumo channel, and lots of it. Fans will typically see three or four hours of featured-hole coverage every Thursday and Friday. One day last week, for example, the channel showed a drivable par 4 at Austin Country Club during match play as well as a concurrent hole. Viewers saw every group that went through from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

For that coverage, PGA TOUR doesn’t just set up a remote camera and film everything from a bird’s-eye view: this is fully produced video, comparable to standard television output in terms of talent, features, and graphics. It’s captured by multiple cameras and streamed in HD. The Xumo channel doesn’t carry any exclusive content but will have roughly 200 hours per year of featured-hole coverage.

The channel’s on-demand library is organized by content type, offering highlights, previews, features, and interviews. It should have about 100 videos at any time, with content cycling in and out to keep the library fresh. Fans can check it to find highlights they missed from the past few days.

Although this is the PGA TOUR’s first curated-TV experience, the organization is no novice to streaming. On Twitter, it will stream 75-80 hours of free exclusive content from 31 events this year. Each Thursday and Friday, it streams the first two holes of competition coverage for featured groups. That’s a slice of the TOUR’s subscription service, which streams coverage of two concurrent groups making the rounds at Match Play. Fans who want more are directed to PGA TOUR Live, where they can get an annual subscription for $39.99.

In addition to live content, the Xumo channel will offer on-demand highlights, previews, features, and interviews.

This is the second year of the TOUR’s deal with Twitter. Wandell says it has been a fantastic partner. The TOUR even streams virtual reality to Twitter: It placed eight VR cameras on the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale, and the produced stream went to Twitter exclusively. It also streamed VR from the Waste Management Phoenix Open and will offer more events later this year.

PGA TOUR isn’t trying to appeal to any particular demographic with its Xumo channel, since people of every age are buying connected TVs. Instead, the goal is to capture eyeballs and convert casual fans to subscribers. But is being Channel 750 on the vast Xumo platform a good way to get noticed? Although Xumo declines to comment on how many active users the PGA TOUR channel could expect, CEO Colin Petrie-Norris notes that the platform has penetration in 80% of the smart-TV market.

“We are accessible in over 20 million households, with about 10% activation rate,” he says. “Within the Xumo platform, there are ample audience-development opportunities and promotional placements that can be leveraged to aid channel discovery. We work with each of our channel partners to surface these opportunities and help grow their audiences.”

Coverage on the PGA TOUR channel is captured by an in-house crew — talent, camera operators, a graphics team — and the organization’s own satellite truck. The signal is relayed to its production facility in St. Augustine, FL, where a team produces the video feed. That feed goes to BAMTech in New York City, the organization’s partner for app development, streaming, and encoding. BAMTech streams the video to Xumo and other platforms.

Xumo’s big attraction for the PGA TOUR was its impressive time-spent-watching metric. Big-screen viewing entices people to sit and watch longer.

“What we’re trying to do there is expand our reach into the living room for people who wouldn’t otherwise be consuming as much of our VOD content or our featured-hole coverage,” Wandell says. “Our goal really is to get the great content that we produce every single day and every single week on to that big screen, as opposed to a PC, a tablet, or a mobile device.”

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