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If your tired of the way network television delivers PGA TOUR action, then DIRECTV may have an alternative that provides unique content. The PGA TOUR and DIRECTV announced a new partnership that will take viewers further inside the ropes with exclusive features and enhanced coverage of four PGA TOUR events this year. It begins this weekend with the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance.  

Under the new programming and marketing partnership, DIRECTV will round off its existing bonus coverage of the four major golf championships with the PGA TOUR Experience, in HD and free of charge to all customers, by offering viewers expanded, live weekend coverage of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance (June 1-2); the Travelers Championship (June 22-23); the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational (Aug. 3-4); and The Barclays (Aug. 24-25).

The enhanced coverage includes exclusive features for DIRECTV viewers through a four-in-one screen Mix Channel displaying: The CBS Sports network feed; “Launch Pad,” a channel dedicated to analyzing golf’s most explosive shot, the long drive; “ShotLink Channel,” a data-intensive view of tournament competition and a “Featured Group” channel that lets viewers follow select groups of players around the course. Each of the bonus channels will be fully produced and have its own announcers. The Mix Channel will also display a persistent Leader Board alongside the channel’s four video cells, providing tee times, live scoring and the leaders’ location on the course.  Each channel in the Mix can be tuned to full screen.

The Launch Pad channel will provide a unique, analytical view of tee shots that require not just distance but strategy. The action will be captured by dedicated cameras positioned on the tee box and landing area of the selected Launch Pad hole at each tournament. The swings will be broken down and analyzed using super slow motion replays, Pro-Tracer shot tracking, split-screen comparisons and graphic enhancements. Distances and results will be measured against statistical data.

The Launch Pad holes are: the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance, 529-yard No. 15 (Muirfield Village GC): a par 5 that is reachable in two, but only with a tee shot that is both long and straight; Travelers Championship, 296-yard No. 15 (TPC River Highlands): a drivable par 4, it’s the most exciting hole on the course; World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, 667-yard No.  16 (Firestone CC): this par 5 is the signature hole at Firestone’s South Course and produces some of the longest drives on TOUR all year; The Barclays, 324-yard No. 16 (Liberty National): another drivable par 4, it should play a big role in determining the champion. 

The ShotLink Channel is designed for the fan who wants to go well beyond the traditional broadcast experience for a data-rich analysis of the game that will include both video and data simultaneously. An interactive menu, available by pressing the red button on the remote, will include selectable items such as: Top Five Leaders; Leaderboard, which displays an in-depth scorecard for each player with hole-by-hold stats for the current or any previous round; and the players’ current year stats.

Viewers will also be able to experience this expanded tournament content on the PGA TOUR iPad app for the first time. DIRECTV’s current slate of expanded, Mix Channel coverage of this year’s remaining majors includes: U.S. Open (June 13-16), The Open Championship (July 18-21) and the PGA Championship (Aug. 8-11).

“DIRECTV’s PGA TOUR Experience will drive the engagement of viewers who love to watch the sport and those weekend golfers who are on an eternal quest to improve their game. It’s like having a professional caddie in your living room,” said Chris Long, senior vice president, Entertainment and Production, DIRECTV. “With our new PGA TOUR partnership, we’re looking forward to exciting golf fans with expanded coverage of the PGA TOUR in 2013, further establishing our position as the leader in sports among all pay TV providers.” 

“I think this whole area of interactive television is growing,” said Mike White, CEO of DIRECTV. “It's pretty clear to us from our own research and experience, most recently with the Masters, I would tell you, the most passionate golf fans that are using those apps. I know from our own internal research among the application users at the Masters, the average daily viewing time was 25% higher than non‑application users. Kind of those that use it tend to tune in more frequently and watch it longer. You are picking up the passionate, real golf fans that are kind of focused on these kinds of interactive viewing applications. 

“But frankly we think, particularly I would say this weekend, I think it's going to be really interesting to see the kind of viewership that we get on the Launchpad because that's kind of a whole new thing where you can also, as a weekend golfer like myself, you get to watch these tremendous pros, kind of study their swing a little bit, pick up a tip or two just watching in slow motion the drive, which is really the shot that a lot of us always struggle a little bit with. I'm really excited about that and I think that will broaden the usage.” Perhaps best of all the additional channels and content are all available to DIRECTV customers at no extra charge.