A Tradition Unlike Any Other.

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The Masters. There are definitely people out there who don’t consider themselves “sports people”. However, I truly believe that ninety-five percent of the US population knows what The Masters is. It truly is a tradition unlike any other. It’s the one weekend a year where people don’t move from their couches because their eyes are glued to the TV due to golf. This prestigious event has been going on each Spring since 1934. There are few higher sports honors then putting on the green jacket. Champions such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Tiger Woods have made Augusta, Georgia a national treasure. Although golf is a more polished and “old school” sport, August National, Inc. has kept up with the times and made the tournament more accessible to fans through the use of digital media.

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One of the first things August National, Inc. (ANI) did to keep up with the modern age was make an application for mobile users. Users can learn about the course by going hole by hole on the interactive platform. Each hole is broken down into information about the layout, what par it is, how long the hole is, the history of how it received its name, and the gorgeous flora that is planted around the fairways and greens. It also provides beautiful pictures so users can associate the information with the hole when they watch the tournament live. Furthermore, the application is even more useful once the match begins. It has an updated leaderboard, the ability to track individual players, and watch the live coverage of ceremonies and individual holes. Although these aspects are great for user interaction, they are only useful once the games are underway. The news section is updated as the event gets closer and as the matches are played out. And finally, the players and tee times sections let the user look into the players’ performances and when everyone will begin their matches.

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CBS Sports and ANI teamed up to have the live stream of the game available to customers. The Masters is available for streaming through YouTube TV which is $35 a month, however you can boondoggle this by trying the seven-day free trail at the beginning of the weekend. It is also available to users who have purchased Hulu with Live TV (what I presented on last class, ha!). Next, it is available through CBS All Access which is $6 per month but only gives the customer to CBS content. WatchESPN mobile app also provides highlights and partial live streams to any users with the app on their mobile device. Finally, it is available to stream on cbssports.com, but this requires users to log in with their cable provider information. Overall, it still costs most users some type of payment to watch the full live stream, however ANI is taking the right steps toward the cord cutting future of the younger generations.

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The next step that ANI has taken to stay current is the “all in one place” updates to The Masters website for laptop/desktop users. This platform has essentially all of the same information as the mobile app, but with just more information. One of the interesting sections is about the patron info which details what is and what is not allowed at Augusta. For example, I didn’t know that no cell phones, cameras, or any other electronic devices were allowed on the grounds. This section also discusses the weather and attire that is to be expected at the event. Finally, the section on ticketing is only available on the website platform. This is a little bit of an odd section. Users must make an account to view the application process. Additionally, due to the high security, The Masters asks for the last four digits of your social security (which weirded me out). Once your application is received, users receive an email about the availability of the tickets once they are posted for purchase on the website.

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In 2017, golf fans streamed a record 25.8 million total minutes of The Masters which was the highest streamed golf event ever. This year is projected to blow past that number, with a majority of the reason being that Tiger Woods is in contention and in Las Vegas bookmakers, he is the favorite to win the whole tournament. His last win at The Masters was in 2005, and his last major win was in 2008 at the U.S. Open. With all the hype of Tiger being back, there will definitely be a high viewership of the event. This Masters is going to be something special with the hope that we see the man in red and black on Sunday April 8th. If that doesn’t get you amped up to sit on your couch and do nothing for a weekend, check out the links below.

Unreal Tiger chip-in.

Top 10 shots.

Jordan Spieth winning (not at The Masters but it’s still electric).

Sergio wins it.

6 comments

  1. Good post! I saw your post right as I was about to publish mine and this is a great compliment, since I did not talk about the features of the website that much. You can see the evolution of the Masters’ website and just notice how much of a difference technology makes: http://www.masters.com/en_US/news/articles/2016-04-02/ibm_and_masterscom_celebrate_20_years.html?promo=article_next. This tournament is my favorite every year and the only golf tournament I throughly watch every round. This year will be a big one with Tiger coming back, which will most definitely increase viewership. It will be really interesting if IBM will be able to handle the amount of viewers as they have in the past.

  2. Great post, Mike! “Golf” and “innovative technology” aren’t two terms I’d typically think go together, so I was really interested to learn about the steps that ANI has taken to modernize the event. That said, I think it’s kind of strange that they would go out of their way to build a mobile app, if no cell phones are allowed on the grounds. I get that a lot of people using the app won’t actually be in attendance, but some of the features (like the ability to track players) seem like they’d be useful to have access to while there in person. Regardless, I agree with your statement about the majority of the US population knowing about The Masters. My family doesn’t have any golf fans, but I’m sure that the event will be on our TV at some point throughout the weekend!

  3. This post reminded me of @kkim312 ‘s a few weeks ago regarding how golf was trying to incorporate technology into the fan experience. In a lot of ways, I think that the Masters is a good breeding test ground for new technology in the same way that it has been used in March Madness over the past few years. I would imagine that CBS has something to do with this connection since it owns the television rights for both events.

    I find it interesting that most of the technological innovations used for the Masters are geared toward improving the fan experience first and foremost instead of making the event more profitable. One thing that I like about watching the Masters is that there are very limited commercial breaks, allowing fans to see as much of the action live as possible. It’s no secret that golf has difficulty attracting viewership on any given Sunday, but I think that making the overall experience more enjoyable for the most watched tournament of the year is a step in the right direction to try and make the casual fan tune in more often.

  4. Molly Pighini · ·

    This is an interesting post, Mike, especially as the event grows closer. I agree with @mmerckbc, regarding the perceived dichotomy between technology and the age-old sport of golf. In addition, many see golf an exclusive sport, particularly when it comes to prestigious clubs/courses such as Augusta National. I wonder if some people have protested the publication of so much information as a means of retaining this “exclusive” image. The app, as a whole, looks user-friendly and has some very interesting content. In particular, I think it’s great that there is information pertaining to each hole, targeting different segments of the audience. Some viewers might want to know what exactly the golfer if facing when they see them on TV (the layout, what par it is, how long the hole is). Others might want more contextual information like where each name came from or even the how they could plant the tree on hole 4 in their own yard. It will be interesting to see if golf adds VR elements for their viewers as other sports have begun to do.

  5. It impresses me how much technology has been able to take a strong grip in so many different parts of people’s lives. You did a really great job of detailing all of the digital features that are relevant for this tournament. I really like that the app includes so much information on not just the tournament and players but also the history of the course. I think, in golf specifically there is so much attention paid to details and beauty. This feature in the app really gives users the opportunity to appreciate all of this. For all those directly involved in engaging viewers, I am sure this feature is much appreciated. I think Margaret also did make a great point about how it is ironic that no phones are allowed when the features of the app seem to make the most sense for the viewers actively watching the tournament. Besides being able to keep up with the players’ performance, it would be really cool for them to learn the history and details of the course as they are watching it live.

  6. Nice post. I used to live in Augusta, GA, and it really was an experience when the Master’s came to town. Didn’t think about all the ways technology is changing golf.

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