Oct 8, 2009

Posted in Featured Articles, News, The USDGC Experience

We’re Live! Historic DG Coverage Begins

We’re Live! Historic DG Coverage Begins

Some 4,800 Internet viewers tuned in to disc golf history as they watched a live production, for the first time, at Wednesday’s first round of the USDGC.

Registered viewers got the full treatment of commentaries, graphics, player interviews, and more. Interestingly, the project, one more tool in disc golf cracking the big time, is just as much of a quest of sorts as it is a landmark event.

Early on the PDGA tried to get sponsors and underwriters for such an endeavor, but few were willing to make the commitment without seeing evidence of a finished product, which was nonexistent.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever done this,” said executive producer John Duesler Jr.

Essentially, the broadcast has come about to provide that evidence so potential sponsors for future tourney broadcasts will have a working example of live disc golf coverage and the many hungry fans that tune in.

In the spring, the PDGA formed a partnership with Eplanet Media, a web video production company, and Todocast, which provides satellite link for web streaming. In order to get the project up and running, the team made a $40,000 to $50,000 investment to fund the project.

After a hectic day one, Duesler said it was an overall success. Though, with any quest there was bound to be some bumps in the road. Preparation for the enormous task had to be done in a flash since the team’s production crew, EPlanet, had to travel cross-country from San Jose, Calif., from a previous gig earlier in the week. The whole crew only had one day to get the entire 25-man crew orientated to the USDGC production.

Not surprisingly, on the first day of coverage, things were a bit hectic. Duesler admitted there were kinks to iron out. He said the biggest learning curve was the broadcast’s first hour when it became very evident just how many pieces there were to produce a live picture for a mass audience. Probably the biggest problem came when the web streaming server, which was receiving intense attention from viewers, had to be switched to a better setting. He said that was a relatively quick fix, and the rest of the day ran smoother.
“It will improve greatly today,” he said.

In all, the team produced five hours of coverage on Wednesday. However, they limited the coverage to only a handful of holes from the Winthrop Gold course this year. Monday viewers saw live action from holes 1, 3, 17, and 18. Duesler said the team didn’t want to take on live video of the entire course because it would have been too complex and expensive for this year’s effort. Besides, he said his team wanted to tackle a project size that they could ensure high quality.

Still, the existing coverage is packed with goodies including: commentaries, player interviews, pre-taped features, commercials, viewer interaction features, and other segments. Plus, they have some delayed video from the non-live holes that will be woven into the broadcast.

Granted, the production may not rival CBS’s coverage of the PGA Masters, but it is quite a step beyond years past when the main coverage options were post tournament highlights or listening to web radio coverage. Even web cams, which helped lay the foundation for live tourney coverage, could only go so far, said Duesler, who is also the PDGA’s director of communications.
“This has elevated us to the next level,” he said.

In the past, Duesler said the PDGA has tried to pay to put segments of disc golf video on mainstream television networks, however such efforts can be extremely expensive. Even then the video was often relegated to early morning hours.

However, that might not be a problem with the way TV is gravitating to the Internet, especially sports coverage.
“We’re almost leapfrogging TV,” Duesler said.

After Wednesday, Duesler said he was pleased they were meeting their goal of reaching 5,000 to 10,000 viewers and, for the fact that the production team was nearing their quest to obtain live coverage proof so future tourneys may continue to be live.

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