ESPN’s 11-year-deal-commencing coverage of this past weekend’s 102nd PGA Championship came with not only the scrutiny of a new media partnership’s first event, but it also served as the most prestigious one to be contested since sports began returning earlier this summer.
The results were nothing short of eye-popping as ESPN’s live coverage from TPC Harding Park in San Francisco finished as cable’s most-viewed edition of the event in 10 years.
“We truly enjoyed the chance to bring you the PGA Championship,” tweeted Scott Van Pelt Sunday afternoon. “Great to have the opportunity to be at Harding Park and bring you a big time event. Been too long.”
ESPN's coverage has made Thursday's action that much more enjoyable. https://t.co/wojrXS8enL
— GOLF.com (@GOLF_com) August 7, 2020
. . . the “Featured Groups” offering from ESPN+. was among the most universally well-received aspects. One team for “Featured Groups” consisted of SportsCenter anchor Matt Barrie, joined by Curtis Strange and on-course reporter Jane Crafter – “joined” in this sense meant all three were in different states and only one was at TPC Harding Park.
“We often hear and use the term ‘teamwork’ when dealing with event production, but it’s never been truer than after what we just pulled off for the PGA Championship,” said Barrie, who worked the event from Bristol, Conn. “Under normal circumstances, Curtis and I would’ve loved to have been at Harding Park, but it just wasn’t doable. So, under the guidance of Vice President, Production Mike McQuade and senior managing producer Bryan Jaroch, we put on featured groups from all over the country, and it was a feat we should be incredibly proud of.
“Our team was literally spread throughout different zip codes,” said Barrie, half of the
The Matty & The Caddie podcast. “Curtis was at his home in North Carolina. I was in Bristol. Jane was our course reporter at TPC Harding Park. Our producer, Tim Sullivan, along with our director Derek Mobley were in the production truck in San Francisco. If all of these people weren’t brilliant at their jobs, this doesn’t happen. I’m just fortunate enough they let me tag along.
Following the featured group on ESPN+ is dope. And the trees on this course are so pretty they have to be fake.
— solls (@sollpaper) August 6, 2020
— Mahomes Always Royal (@JCBuildHikeRide) August 9, 2020
ESPN+ coverage of the PGA Championship has been awesome. Bravo
— Drew Butler (@DrewButler) August 8, 2020
“Jane was all over the course providing FootJoys on the ground insight, and all Curtis and I had to do was not screw it up! The chemistry evolved over the hours, and it was just fun to be apart of. Curtis, being a two-time U.S. Open champion, is so good at explaining things for all viewers to understand.”
— El Dajerino (@eldajerino) August 7, 2020
The extra golf coverage we got this past week for the @PGAChampionship on ESPN+ was outstanding. It was so much fun being able to watch the featured groups and follow those players for an entire round. 👏 ⛳️
— Putting Fore Par (@PuttingForePar) August 11, 2020
Barrie said: “Two of my favorite parts: When Justin Thomas hit his brilliant tee shot on the short Par 4 16th on Friday, Curtis literally jumped out of his chair with excitement when describing it. All I could do was laugh. Also, Jane, while giving us great information, often played mediator when Curtis and I would get into one of our’ discussions’.”
ESPN’s coverage of the PGA Championship has been excellent all week long. Excited they’ll have more golf coverage in the coming years.
— Josh Peterson (@joshtweeterson) August 9, 2020
Great job. ESPN and ESPN+ need the opportunity to cover more live golf. Best coverage we have seen all year in covering as many shots as possible and showing feature groups. Other networks need to follow suit.
— Brian Peca (@Knights1525) August 9, 2020
Andy Hall contributed to this post.