Rozner: PGA Tour unveils future of TV sports

  • Bryson DeChambeau hits from the 10th tee in Sunday's final round of The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The use of "Every Shot Live" at the tournament made it seem like viewers were walking inside the ropes with each player.

    Bryson DeChambeau hits from the 10th tee in Sunday's final round of The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The use of "Every Shot Live" at the tournament made it seem like viewers were walking inside the ropes with each player. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 3/16/2021 3:38 PM

Imagine a camera in the dugout with a microphone on Ozzie Guillen at the height of his White Sox managing career.

That would have been worth whatever the price paid for such access.

 

Obviously, it's not suitable for work, small children or today's push-button cancellation, and you would probably have to sign some sort of waiver accepting the risk.

But for a sports fan, it would be tremendous theater -- and this is indeed the future of sports television.

If you watched ""Every Shot Live"" with individual groups at The Players Championship last week, literally every shot by every player was available on PGA Tour Live and NBC Sports Gold.

It debuted a year ago, but only lasted a day when the tournament was shut down. This time around we got four full days and it was brilliant.

I have caddied for a PGA pro in a Korn Ferry Tour event. I have played in a PGA Tour Pro-Am. And I have walked inside the ropes at least a hundred times.

Most people never get to feel what it's like inside the ropes, but "Every Shot Live" gives you that.

So quiet and peaceful. Birds chirping. No announcers. Full player-caddie and player-player conversations. A complete look at every hole on the course. It's the closest thing there is to being there and walking with the players.

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Think of being in a football huddle or on a basketball or hockey bench, a camera and mic focused entirely on Tim Anderson or Javy Baez, your choice to switch from player to manager, from pitcher to catcher, the ability to place a wager as close as the click of a TV remote.

This is all going to happen eventually and the PGA Tour is leading the way. From Abraham Ancer to Xinjun Zhang, with mics and cameras up close and personal, every shot was available at Ponte Vedra online or on your TV.

Over four days, 830 hours of live coverage covering 176 groups and more than 30,000 shots across 150 acres of TPC Sawgrass.

It's a monumental undertaking requiring massive resources, but having successfully completed one tournament, fans will be asking for more, as in every week.

So, when will it happen again?

Scott Gutterman -- PGA Tour SVP of digital ops -- said Tuesday via email that "Every Shot Live" will return for the 2022 Players Championship, and that "we are looking at how to bring it to more events, sooner rather than later."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Losing last year's tournament was also a lost opportunity for the project. Instead of this being Year 2, it was really the first chance to iron out the kinks and it will take some time for the Tour to digest all that occurred.

Still, more is good and sooner is better.

"This is probably the most requested feature in my time here," Gutterman said a year ago. "People say, 'Why can't I watch my guy when I want?' Until two or three years ago, the technology wasn't there. Now, the technology is there and the cost has come together with it as technology gets cheaper.

"We did some testing last year and went to (PGA Tour commissioner) Jay Monahan and told him we can pull this off. He said, 'Let's do it.'

"One thing I do tell people is this is really an experiment and we will learn a lot some from it. There will be some glitches and we'll sit down ... and evaluate, and then we'll do it again next year."

Can't wait.

"This is the first step in what we believe to be the future of the PGA Tour," Gutterman said. "This is really about the personalization of content so fans can watch who they want, when they want, on any device, from anywhere in the world."

Rob Manfred, are you listening?

"We are definitely anticipating sports betting being a part of what we've done and a big part of sports betting is getting content," Gutterman said. "It's at the forefront of our thinking.

"Further down the road, I could see a GreenZone version where you see every meaningful shot on every green. We have as much content as the NFL, so the possibilities are there for so much more that we can do."

Good. More, please. And soon.

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