Turner will issue refunds to some customers who shelled out $20 for Friday’s pay-per-view golf match featuring Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson after a technical problem forced the company to make the event available free via a live stream.
The need to issue refunds adds to the embarrassment for Turner. The company said a glitch with the purchasing infrastructure on its Bleacher Report Live page threatened to keep some customers from watching the event. Rather than have fans angry at missing what proved to be a 22-hole shootout between the golf legends, Turner made the call to take down the paywall and make the live stream available to all for free.
“ ‘The Match’ was an historic event, from Tiger’s opening tee shot to Phil’s final putt. Prior to the start of the event, we experienced a technical issue with the B/R Live paywall page that we tried to quickly resolve. We decided to take down the paywall to ensure that fans who already purchased the event would not miss any action,” a Turner spokesman said in a statement issued Saturday. “This did not impact the live streaming of the competition and fans were treated to an event that was both engaging and memorable. Unfortunately, the pre-match technical issue did occur, and we will offer fans who purchased the event on B/R Live a refund.”
Turner’s statement specified that refunds would be offered to those customers who purchased the event directly through Bleacher Report. But Turner may face additional pressure to offer more refunds to customers who paid for the event via traditional TV distributors such as its AT&T corporate sibling DirecTV and Comcast. On Friday, Comcast said it would offer a $19.99 credit to customers who paid for “The Match” through its Xfinity platform. Turner said on Friday that there were no technical problems with the linear telecast of the event.
Mickelson prevailed in the made-for-TV event staged at Las Vegas’ Shadow Creek golf course. He took home a $9 million purse, and he raised $400,000 for various charities through side bets with Woods.
Turner had hoped to use the event as a platform to promote Bleacher Report as an outlet for live streaming coverage of sports news and events. Instead, some viewers were irritated by the technical issues and the fact that they paid for a program that wound up airing for free.