Live Coverage Returning To USDGC, But With A New Look

Don't expect traditional lead card coverage.

The view from the tee on hole 17 at Winthrop Gold.

After two years without live video coverage, the United States Disc Golf Championship is reviving it in 2018 with a bold new approach.

Rather than focus on traditional two-camera lead card coverage that has become the standard approach, USDGC will focus on a live studio show — led by Avery Jenkins and Jamie Thomas — with multiple cameras around the course, including significant coverage of Winthrop Gold’s iconic hole 17. Multiple guests will stop into the studio — which looks out onto the 18th fairway — for interviews, analysis, and discussion.

“It doesn’t have to look like the PGA Tour,” said USDGC event manager and Innova team manager Jonathan Poole. “It doesn’t have to look like the Masters.”

The tournament has hired Fulcrum Media — a production company that primarily broadcasts ultimate frisbee — to produce live coverage for the final two rounds of the tournament.

The current plan is to set up a filming tower near the basket on hole 17, which will allow for a high-angle view of all of that island hole, the entirety of the long par 5 fifth along the lake, the 18th1, some of hole 6, some of hole 13, and some of hole 1.

There will also be a camera stationed below the tower to get a close-up view of the 17th green and a roving wireless camera that will be able to get close-ups on holes 1, 17, and 18. Additionally, Fulcrum and the tournament are partnering with Jomez Productions to install hardware on four of their cameras — two on the lead card, two on the chase card — that will supply a wireless feed back to the production team, enabling look-in coverage from any hole on the course. Fulcrum will also be operating a drone to capture wide angle aerial views of the course.

“There was a desire from the USDGC people to think about and explore the story of disc golf and the story of this tournament that wasn’t tethered to the way that disc golf has been shown live in the past,” said Fulcrum co-founder Luke Johnson, adding later, “We’re not trying to show disc golf like it’s been shown before. The priority is the studio show. The priority is the space that we’re creating there and welcoming in viewers to the sport.”

Poole said that the tournament organizers felt that the live broadcasts — last produced by Smashboxx in 2015 and by Disc Golf Planet in years prior — had stalled out. “The product that we were turning out was giving good content to the hardcore community, but it wasn’t drawing eyeballs,” he said.

This year’s approach will allow for a more cohesive broadcast that’s less dependent on the pace of play. “If there’s a backup, we don’t have to rely on commercials to fill that space,” he said. “Even our commercials I don’t want to watch six times.”

There are risks. It’s a complex plan, and the lack of emphasis on hole-by-hole coverage could be a negative for die-hard fans. Fulcrum’s crew has also never filmed or broadcast disc golf before, though Jussi Meresmaa, who has extensive experience leading video production teams, will be alongside them in an executive producer role. They will also do a full practice run on Thursday during round two.

This is par for the course for the USDGC, which pioneered live coverage after featuring audio-only broadcasts and online shot tracking over a decade ago. “We’ve never been scared to try things that are new and different,” said Poole.

The goal is to reach a wider audience for disc golf, to make the coverage more accessible for fans who may not be as invested in the stories of the tournament or the sport before tuning in. “They want to go beyond the endemic disc golf audience, which is already big,” said Johnson. “But they know that they can be even bigger.”

“We had one of the greatest Worlds ever and it was still only 11,000 people [watching live],” said Poole. “That 11 should be 20, or 30, or 40 eventually.”

Live coverage will begin on Friday, October 5th, during the third round of the USDGC. More information will be available soon on the USDGC website.

  1. particularly during the final round when the basket is moved to the top of the hill for better spectating angles 

More from Ultiworld
Comments on "Live Coverage Returning To USDGC, But With A New Look"

Find us on Twitter

Recent Comments

Find us on Facebook