Undeterred by mother nature, “The Match: Champions for Charity” delivered the most-watched golf telecast in cable TV history. The one-off event, which paired Tiger Woods & Peyton Manning against Phil Mickelson & Tom Brady, averaged 5.8 million viewers Sunday across TNT, TBS, TruTV & HLN. If the star power encouraged fans to tune in, the up-close and intimate viewing experience is what kept them watching.
1. Mic’d Up Athletes Makes Them Feel More Human
Tom Brady has been referred to as the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), so often times we forget he’s human. Sunday’s match gave viewers a brief glimpse at Tom Brady, the guy who’s just like you and me, struggling our way through the trees and rough, until he wasn’t.
After hearing light-hearted jabbings on social media and in his ear from analyst Charles Barkley throughout the start of The Match, the moment of the day came on the par-5 7th when Brady drained an approach shot from over 100 yards out. It was potentially the golf shot of Brady’s life, and it was amplified by the fact that he was mic’d up and wearing an earpiece. The front row access to hear the preamble from Barkley and a post shot clap back by Brady made this moment human and memorable.
The Match provided plenty of other moments and sound bites that brought the viewers inside the ropes and gave them an unforgettable experience. NFL fans tuning in found their fix for football rivalries as Brady and Manning shared fun stories and exchanged friendly, yet competitive banter throughout the round. Meanwhile, golf fanatics had the chance to go into the mind of Phil Mickelson and hear him break down everything he takes into consideration on an approach shot. Every viewer was treated to an up close and personal experience you typically have to pay for. Now that viewers got a taste of it, they’re sure to want more.
2. Real-Time Social Content Unites Viewers at Home
While the foursome on the course held the focus of the event, Turner Sports leveraged the real-time conversation happening on social media to unite viewers, athletes, and celebrities all watching from their homes. Coverage of the first few holes featured a steady stream of posts roasting Tom Brady, including one from Saints Head Coach, Sean Payton.
3. Betting and Virtual Competitions Make it Interesting
Social media also provided a unique opportunity to introduce some virtual competition into the match and catered to the growing trend of sports betting (in this case, for a very good cause). In the midst of Brady’s struggle, Turner Sports featured a tweet from PGA TOUR pro Brooks Koepka, who pledged $100,000 to his charity if Brady could make a par on the front 9.
After Brady holed out to secure the donation, Koepka doubled down and tweeted that he’d give another $100,000 if Brady could do it again. Charles Barkley read the tweet to Brady live on air, and Turner Sports later brought Koepka on the phone to congratulate Brady on the big shot.
With the country craving just a taste of live sports, Turner Sports delivered a broadcast that satisfied nearly every viewers’ appetite. It was a clinic in interactive storytelling and a blueprint for other broadcasters to reference as live sports begin to make their way back into our living rooms.