Spate of Deals Lets Viewers Control When and Which Holes They Watch

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NEW YORK ( -- Oh, if only it was 2005. That’s what Nike must be thinking as CBS yesterday announced a slate of broadband-video and video-on-demand deals that will make highlights and play from the 2006 Masters Tournament much more accessible.
Tiger Woods' spectacular 16th-hole shot at last year's Masters put the Nike swoosh on camera for two high-tension seconds but couldn't be replayed by those who missed it. This year, the tournament is making coverage of every hole's play available on demand.

Golf fans will recall that last year Tiger Woods won the tourney with what may be the best sports replay shot of all time: a slow-mo sinker on the 16th hole in which the ball settled -- with its Nike swoosh to the camera -- for a full two seconds before dropping in the cup. Ad Age estimated the live and replayed footage was worth about $1 million in free advertising.

Of course, only the lucky viewers who had been recording the event on their DVRs were able to play it back at will. But this year, almost anyone will be able to control when they watch.

Highlights on demand
Starting April 10, viewers can order up an on-demand tournament highlight reel from one of eight different cable, satellite and telecom operators with which CBS has video-on-demand agreements. Additionally, at-work employees can wile away hours of productivity watching a live, online stream of the Masters as and broadcast play on holes 12, 13 and 14 -- coined “The Amen Corner” -- at Augusta National. The tournament runs from April 6-9.

In previous years, has provided live coverage of holes 6 and 12, during the practice rounds only. This year there will be about 22 hours of online streaming during the actual tournament. Unlike the recent March Madness online streaming event, the Masters deal is clouded with nuances.

The Masters is a closely held property that renews its media partnerships year-by-year. The online coverage is being produced by CBS Sports and CBS Sportsline, but part of the deal was to allow the coverage to be shown on has a promotional deal with, which allows ESPN to link to the online stream. However, the live streams will feature CBS Sports and CBS Sportsline branding -- the announcers’ microphones, for example, will sport the CBS eye -- and talent.

While the stream on is free to consumers, it won’t be ad supported, according to a spokeswoman. That fits with The Masters tradition of having limited advertising in its TV broadcast -- only four minutes an hour. Three sponsors foot the bill for the broadcasts, and this year they are IBM, Exxon Mobile and AT&T. (All the sponsorships are signed with The Masters, not the networks that air the event, NBC Universal’s USA Network and CBS. Visitors who log onto the stream at will, however, notice sponsors’ logos on the site.)

CBS Sportsline’s streaming Masters coverage will be presented courtesy of computer retailer CDW, which will run a pre-roll ad prior to the stream and have branding within the streaming player.

Nike, not an official sponsor, will just have to hope for another fortuitous shot -- and that it happens not on the 16th, but on the 12th, 13th or 14th hole.

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