Those who paid $19.99 to watch Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson battle in “The Match” were surprised when they tuned in to find that the match was being broadcast for free. Now, they will get their money back.
Turner Sports announced on Saturday that those who paid the pay-per-view price for the golf showdown will be issued a refund after a technical glitch allowed the match to be viewed by anyone who tuned in to Bleacher Report Live. As ESPN reported, a number of carriers have announced that customers who paid for the event will be getting their money back.
“Carriers Comcast, Charter Spectrum, Cox Communications, Dish/Sling TV and AT&T — via its DirecTV and U-Verse platforms — also announced it would not charge customers who paid for the event, either through credits or refunds. Other carriers, including Cablevision and Verizon, have not made decisions.”
Turner Sports, which sponsored the match, issued a statement saying that a technical issue with the Bleacher Report Live paywall forced them to take it down, allowing anyone who tuned in to see the match, even if they hadn’t paid for it. The glitch caused a stir at the time, with many taking to social media to wonder why the match was being offered for free after the company was charging $19.99 beforehand for access to it.
As Variety reported, the made-for-television match at the Shadow Creek golf course in Las Vegas was meant to be a vehicle to promote Bleacher Report as an outlet for live streaming of sports events. Instead it generated frustration among fans who are now waiting for their refunds and has hurt the site, which has been angling to compete as an alternative to ESPN and Sports Illustrated online. Bleacher Report had been purchased by Turner Broadcasting System in 2012 for $175 million, and in March, the company launched B/R Live, a subscription video streaming service.
The Match was the first marquee event for B/R Live, which also offers broadcasts for some NBA programming along with UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa matches. The site will also offer a new NBA microtransaction service that allows viewers to pay a small fee to watch five-minute portions of a live game.
After the controversy regarding the site’s fee, Phil Mickelson prevailed over Tiger Woods in The Match, taking the $9 million purse and earning another $400,000 through side bets with Woods. The money earned from those bets will go to various charities.