Tiger-Mickelson Event Spices Up Already Eventful Fall For PPV Category

Turner Sports’ Nov. 23 Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson pay-per-view golf match highlights what has been a very unique and successful fall for the PPV event category.

The Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil event – the first live, head-to-head golf event ever carried on PPV -- will retail at a suggested price of $19.99, according to Turner executives. Turner is treating the event, in which the winner will receive a $9 million prize -- like a big, boxing match. It has commissioned sister premium service HBO to offer its 24/7 sports documentary series – which is usually associated with marquee boxing matches – to follow the two iconic golfers leading up to the big event.

Golf fans can buy the match through traditional companies like In Demand and Vubiquity, as well as through new entrants like Turner’s Bleacher Report Live streaming sports service.

Tiger vs. Phil adds to what has become a very fruitful period for the PPV event category.

For the first eight months of the year, the pay-per-view event industry hadn’t had a lot to cheer about. Then in September, Canelo Alvarez and Genaddy Golovkin stepped into the boxing ring for a rematch of their highly controversial November 2017 fight, which ended in a draw. Along with being an action-packed fight -- won by Alvarez in a close decision -- the rematch drew approximately 1.1 million PPV buys, according to ESPN. (opens in new tab)

The Oct. 6 UFC 229 Conor McGregor-Khabib Nurmagomedov fight will be remembered mostly for the wild, post-fight melee that took place both inside and outside the octagon. Yet the event is trending to become the most successful PPV event in UFC’s history with more than 2 million buys, according to published reports.

Showtime will step into the PPV ring Dec. 1 with its big heavyweight championship fight between Deontay Wlder and Tyson Fury.

Looking ahead, the PPV category will certainly face some challenges beginning in 2019 as upstart streaming services like ESPN and DAZN compete for mid-sized combat sports events. DAZN’s deal to stream current PPV boxing champion Alvarez’s next 11 fights is a major body blow to the category.

But for now, the PPV category is enjoying a very event-filled and lucrative end to 2018. 

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.