It’s not particularly shocking that the PGA had the oldest average viewing audience out of 16 major sports according to a Market Watch article from June. The average age of the PGA viewer is 64 while the LPGA is tied for second with horse racing at 63. Other major sports like the NFL and NBA come in at the 40-50-year-old range.
It’s no secret that a focus of PGA is finding its next dominant athlete as the sport transitions to its post-Tiger phase and while Jordan Spieth is a step in the right direction, they need more. Golf retailers have been struggling in the recent years making the concern of young talent pursuing other sports all the more real.
So in what ways can the PGA capture the attention of the younger generations again other than hoping the next Tiger Woods comes in soon? The answer is simple on the surface but hard to execute correctly: utilizing technology.
"Tiger Woods …"
No, it has to be someone on the team.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 30, 2017
In today’s world sports leagues need to cater to the viewers’ base desires, which essentially boils down to capturing the most exciting parts of the game all the time. The NFL has done that job perfectly with its Red Zone channel which shows every scoring play on Sundays and avoids boring plays such as punts.
So what is the PGA doing to better utilize technology to reach younger fans? Let’s take a look.
The first and most significant way the PGA is using technology is how they are attempting to increase viewership numbers. The reason it’s the most significant is because the more people you reach by making it easier to watch, especially using mobile accessibility, the more likely it is that a younger audience will start watching.
A big example of this happened this past July when the PGA expanded its coverage of the U.S. Open in England by using Facebook and Twitter to livestream the events. The Facebook livestream was on a page with 26 million followers who were a majority in the 18-34 age range.
By expanding live coverage of the tournament, you have more eyes on a sport where there are a dozen things going on at once so viewers can find something that interests them rather than sitting through something they’d otherwise change the channel on.
— Mike Leising (@mikeglf83) August 10, 2017
The PGA is also utilizing virtual reality to enhance the viewing experience for the audience. The entire experience surrounded the famous 17th hole of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Using technology from Intel, anyone with a Samsung virtual reality headset could log in and get a 360-degree angle along with three camera angles.
While these things may seem small since they are not expanding the traditional broadcasting methods, the PGA recognizes that’s no longer the best way to reach newer and especially younger audiences. As the cheaper options continue to grow online and through devices like Roku, Apple TV and Playstation, that’s exactly where the focus needs to be.
While the youth movement is picking up with this last season being the youngest season of winners in history, they will have plenty to feed off of in future years. It’s just whether or not they’ll grab onto the opportunity or let it fall flat on its face.
What a year, @JustinThomas34!!!
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 24, 2017
These are just stepping stones for the PGA but the fact they are making any changes at all is crucial to a successful path. Going into next season, it will be important for the PGA to continue to utilize social media and other mediums such as virtual reality to capture the younger audience it so clearly needs.