Turner Sports Upbeat About Live Golf Telecast Amid Pandemic

Turner Sports this Sunday (May 24) will take viewers to the golf course for a live competition featuring Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson that is expected to raise $10 million to benefit COVID-19 relief.

Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Charity will feature Woods and Mickelson in a sequel to their November 2018 Turner Sports-distributed pay-per-view golf match, as well as iconic NFL quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. The event is Turner Sports’ first live sports telecast since the COVID-19 pandemic forced most live sports events to the sidelines. 

Live coverage of the tournament airing on TNT, TBS, truTV and HLN will feature access with all players having open mics throughout the entire competition. The players will have the capability of communicating directly with other golfers and  broadcast commentators, which includes former NBA star Charles Barkley.

Turner Sports chief content officer Craig Barry recently talked about the origins and production of the event.

How did this event come together in light of the pandemic?

It’s really been months of preparation and it’s touched every part of our organization. Despite the pandemic, and with everyone working remotely, we’ve all come together in support of the event and we’re excited to produce a fun, entertaining event this weekend. We have four of the most iconic athletes on the planet involved and it’s all for COVID-19 relief. We hope fans will be able to take a break and enjoy it.

How big is The Match for sports-starved fans in general and golf fans in particular?

From the response we’ve been seeing, there’s strong interest in this event from both hardcore and casual sports fans. Above all, we hope it will drive meaningful funding for COVID-19 relief, while also offering people a bit of distraction from everything else they are facing in this unprecedented moment in time.

How has advertisers responded to The Match?

We were seeing a very strong marketplace before the pandemic, so it’s not a surprise that this event has generated an overwhelming response from our advertising partners. Capital One, as the title sponsor, and all of our marketing partners have enthusiastically supported both the event and its mission to drive funding for COVID-19 relief. We’re proud that we’ve been able to bring together these partners and hopefully deliver some moments that bring levity to viewers, all while maximizing how much funding we can raise in those relief efforts.

What production adjustments has Turner Sports made to televise the event due to the pandemic?

As you can imagine, our event footprint is significantly reduced to only include those individuals that are essential to the production. Most of those personnel have been hired locally for this event. That said, we’re confident in producing a high quality, entertaining show for our viewers.

What are your viewership expectations for The Match?

The key number we’re focused on for this event is the amount of funding for COVID-19 relief. That’s at the center of everything we’re doing. We don’t project viewership numbers, but we have four of the best athletes in the world on display and we think it is going to be a lot of fun for us and our fans.

Is Turner Sports developing on any other live sports events to televise in the near future?

We’re constantly seeking innovative ways to deliver premium sports content for our fans across all platforms, with this event being the latest example of that commitment. We’re very engaged with all of our partners and we’re going to keep exploring opportunities to provide content that truly resonates with fans.

R. Thomas Umstead

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.