We’re only a short week away from the start of the 2021 Disc Golf Pro Tour Season at the Las Vegas Challenge!
I’m so ready. 2020 was… a year, and I’m ready for the 2021 season to begin. Each year we have new discs that will change the way the game is played. We’ll have players throwing different plastic. Some players will dominate early with all their winter preparation while others take a while to get going. Ahh there is always a little something new each season to get excited about.
There will be one constant thing however. People arguing over which is better, Post Produced or Live Coverage. (Audible groan emoji.)
I probably consume as much disc golf video content as anyone on the planet. We’ve got 2 televisions playing at all times here at the Sabattus Disc Golf Pro Shop. We want you to have that feeling of being surrounded by disc golf from the second you walk in. I work in the Pro Shop about 28 hours a week in the winter and over 40 per week in the summer. So there’s almost 2000 hours of disc golf that I watch all 👏 year 👏 long 👏. And that’s just while I’m at work! I go home and watch coverage there, too so I’m going to claim a little bit of expert status on this issue.
What’s the big deal; why do people fight about this so much?
I think there are 4 major reasons that people have an opinion about which is more desirable. Both sides have merits about which is “better”.
- Paywalls, in a mostly free to play sport.
- Quality of the broadcast.
- Length of broadcast.
1. It’s the spoilers.
Spoilers are why I avoided social media for a week before I could go see Avengers Endgame. It’s why Ed Gamble says “Spoiler Alert” before he starts the TaskMaster podcast. No one wants the ending spoiled for them.
FACT: More people watch the recap of disc golf than watch the live round.
The most watched live round is the MPO Pro Tour Final at 103,000 views at the 3:46:36 mark. The Jomez versions of that round have 529,000 views and only took 1:26:01to achieve that. The most watched Jomez video is still the 2019 World Championships final round F9 which has 4 million views. Post production is currently sitting high on top of the mountain.
Post Production has gotten 5 times the views for the same event!
So this is one big problem, should disc golf cater to the 529,000 viewers or 103,000 viewers? Will the PDGA not post on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, or other social media platforms for 24 hours so everyone has a chance to watch the recap? Or should they just post anyway, like every other major sports body does?
So how do we contain the spoilers? There’s 103,000 people who had just watched FPO battle it out in a playoff for the sports biggest prize ever. They’re not going to just not post on social media about it. Should those people who want to watch Jomez videos the next day just not check their phones for a night?
I don’t have an answer for this. When I watch League of Legends I can watch live games or VODS (Video On Demand) which means I can watch the game without spoilers. I just go to one page right away and I don’t get anything spoiled for me.
However it’s not condensed coverage the way we have in disc golf, it’s just the regular broadcast on my own time. This wouldn’t work in disc golf because people are posting on social media, so you’d have to give it up for a night and hope that none of your disc golf buddies text you.
If you’re watching it live, it can’t possibly be spoiled for you. If you’re watching a recap, you run the risk of knowing ahead of time.
2. Now what about paywalls?
The Disc Golf Network costs money to watch. If you want to see disc golf live you’ve got to pay for it. I think it was 64.99 bucks for the year, or you can get it charged monthly. But the thing is I get to watch the drama unfold live. I know who wins the tournament exactly when it happens. To me it’s worth it because the payoff I feel when I watch a 3 hour round come down to whoever makes a final putt, is awesome. I’m used to paying for disc golf, in Maine every course costs money to play. But there’s a reason we have 8/100 of the world's top courses in Maine; paid courses are usually better taken care of. That’s for another blog someday, my point is maybe I’m just used to paying for disc golf.
Jomez and CCDG are free. They’re on YouTube and it doesn’t cost a cent for you to watch. That’s the way disc golf is in most of the country. I understand people just go to public parks and play with baskets installed by a public works department. Here in Maine that’s not happening.
Jomez and Central Coast Disc Golf are able to maintain their free offering by people contributing to their patreon page, selling ad space in their videos, and selling merchandise. Jomez has 3,227 patreons on their page. Without these people it wouldn’t be possible to see this for free. It’s like we’re using the patreons Netflix account. While it is free, someone is still paying between $5 and $20.12 each month for us to watch. However you don’t have to be the one paying.
3. Quality of the Broadcast.
Live production has improved each year. The drone footage at the USDGC last year on hole 5 was spectacular. It felt like a view from the Goodyear blimp. They often managed to cover lead card and chase card as well. There were far fewer delays, and it felt like I was there when they played in that downpour on the last day. The constant raindrops with no soothing music outros really made me feel like I was standing there. I saw live production of other events such as the DGPT Final, watching Hailey King sink that putt to win 20 grand was pretty dang cool. We watch the Super Bowl live, baseball live, and almost every other sporting event live. No, I don’t get Hi-Def like it’s a playoff football game, but it’s still pretty amazing.
Often what I hear is the commentary is a sticking point for some folks. As much as Nate Sexton and Big Jerm tell you they haven’t got any clue what’s happening, they have to have heard about the round. They can foreshadow because they, at the very least, know the outcome. It’s not as if they’ve been sequestered; they looked at the scores. They can talk with the Jomez crew and find out what happened before they get on and talk. They have all the stats compiled from the end of the round, follow flights, and probably talk to other competitors about the round they had. Big Sexy also gets to have a solid rhythm for 35 minutes with no breaks or interruptions and they know the outcome before they sit down. Don’t get me wrong, they absolutely do great work. I just want to point out they have significant advantages to live coverage when it comes to talking about an event.
In live disc golf, sometimes they have to wait for a backup which elongates the round and the time spent talking. Live rounds are also a lot longer, many rounds take 4 times as long as the Jomez / CCDG condensed rounds. If you asked anyone to keep you interested 4 days in a row for 2.5 hours of live coverage each day, there might be moments of break down. I appreciate any insights given by Nate and Val, 7X World Championship family. They’ve retired from competitive play, but they’re still phenomenal disc golf minds. Sure every once in a while Nate will get shocked by players doing things that don’t seem that unusual, but I think that’s just who he is. I like how excited he gets for some shots. Sometimes he’s a little too critical (in my opinion) of people’s shot selection, but that’s again who he is. They don’t know what’s going to happen any more than we do, which is kind of nice. The camerawork live is getting better, I don’t expect follow flights or high quality replays yet. Disc golf may get there someday in the future. But to expect what’s shown on the PGA tour (93 cameras) is a little unrealistic for our sport at the moment.
4. Length of the Broadcast
Tournament disc golf takes hours to play. There’s backups, looking for lost discs, talking about rulings, waiting the 25 seconds for lie assessment, walking around water and obstacles. Think about your rounds on tough courses, they take over an hour, right? Tournament golf is notoriously slow, it’s not casual. The strokes matter for hundreds of dollars, so I don’t blame pros for playing slowly. To watch a live tournament you’ve got to have time.
Now it helps that I was at Sabattus Disc Golf working while the USDGC was on. So I pulled up the USDGC content that I paid for and put it on to watch while I did other tasks. I could follow along on UDisc Live as well, not that I needed to because they kept the graphics up on the screen. I had 5 hours where I could work and watch casually at the same time. That’s a luxury for most folks. I work the weekend when disc golf is on, and my employer encourages me to watch disc golf.
Post Production edits all the extra stuff out. You know how sometimes you’ll see a player step up to the tee on a Jomez video, then it will cut to when they’re actually driving? They take those 15 seconds of wind reading, a couple practice arm swings, and the Sportsack slaps out so the viewer doesn’t waste time. You get the shots, that’s it. Maybe if something funny happens during the round they’ll show it as well, but they try to keep these videos short. My dad is a teacher who wants to watch disc golf, but he’s working with students while the lead card is playing, by the time he gets home it’s all over. Live coverage doesn’t work for him. Luckily he can watch post production content and see the round on his own time. Like when he’s riding his stationary bike and dreaming about being out on tour.
Spoilers, Pay to watch, Quality, and Length of time are the 4 major points that people seem to argue about when it comes to which is better.
To me there’s no way to ultimately decide this.
Post Production and Live Production of disc golf are two very separate things, meant for separate audiences. Both have their pros and cons, both work for different people. It’s like asking if French Fries are better than an Ice Cream Sundae, they’re so different and good, how can anyone decide?
For me, live works when I’m at work, and if I want to watch the recap later I can enjoy it then, too. There’s hundreds of thousands of people out there like my dad who can’t watch 3 hours worth when they get home and they like the hour long version in two parts.
So quit bellyaching over which is better. They’re different, they’re both amazing, disc golf is growing really fast, and some coverage is better than no coverage at all. Expect improvements in both, but understand we’re having growing pains, too.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397