Was post-production disc golf coverage eliminated?

Live disc golf is quickly taking market share – and the Pro Tour holds the cards.

Gomezbro founder Jonathan Gomez. Photo: Alyssa Van Lanen – PDGA.

The 2022 edition of the World Championship was ready to frustrate. Expectations were very high. The courses were very boring. Follow-up to last year’s masterpiece surely was destined to disappoint, with DGN’s decision to release the documentary Holy Shot alongside this year’s event as just a salve for the upcoming wound.

By and large, that wasn’t what happened. FPO only crowned its second European Champion in history in Kristen Tatar, and MPO went to a playoff for the second year in a row, with Paul Macbeth winning his sixth world title in a dramatic fashion over the Cinderella story Aaron Jossig.

Take another win in live golf coverage.

It’s tempting to focus on how the week in Emporia proves the live coverage model, with tens of thousands of people spending hours of their day on weekends watching disc golf, but let’s go back a little bit.

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The golf media story is the story of two world championships nearly a decade apart. The first is the Charlotte World Championships in 2012, and the second is the 2021 Championships from Ogden, Utah. The first marks the first time Jonathan Gomez uploaded disc golf coverage to YouTube after taking his camera to film the final round fight between Paul Macbeth and Ricky Wysuke, the story now is the stuff of Gomez’s legend. The latter is James Conrad’s “holy shot” from the last loophole in regulation last year. Both moments rewrote the disc golf media landscape.

Gomez wasn’t the first person to film a disc golf tournament. Longtime enthusiasts will remember McFlySoHigh, Central Coast Disc Golf and of course Terry Miller who has always been posting content from the course since 2010. What Gomez has done has been revolutionary is to turn disc golf coverage into a successful business and prove that the market was there and craving for more. The amount of post-production golf coverage has mushroomed in the years since, with providers such as GK Pro, Gatekeeper Media and shred Run Productions, and some others become household names among fans.

In 2012, the Disc Golf Pro Tour was just a blink in Steve Dodge’s eye and the Disc Golf Network was unimaginable. For disc golf fans, just seeing Worlds’ final nine holes on camera has been a blessing. By 2021, things were dramatically different. There’s no need to rehash the story of the disc golf epidemic boom, but nine years after those last nine of 2012, Disc Golf Network’s live coverage has been showing a new generation of fans how to experience the drama of golf.

The most important discus throw in sports history happened – and it happened live. Ian Anderson’s Whitmanesque yawp has been indelibly burned in my mind and those who’ve heard it nearly 9,000 times since have been in the DGN commercial. There is no turning back now. Anderson, the man behind one of the most popular post-production outlets, Central Coast Disc Golf, is now perhaps the most famous face of “The Grid” as he calls it on air, often pulling double duty, commenting on both FPO and MPO for full tournaments. For his part, Anderson says he doesn’t think post-production will “really ever die” thanks in part to the “crazy places we play golf.” In the grand scheme of things, he adds, he believes live coverage is here to stay, and even if the popular plateaus of disc golf like skateboarding or other niche sports tend to do over the years, “the live streams will continue to get views from the post.”

Calvin Heimburg and Madison Walker react to the sacred shot of James Conrad.

While 2012 proved a market for Gomez’s product, 2021 proved he no longer had the best product in town. To be clear, the Gomez team is the best in business at what they do. The camera action is sharp, the commentary is lovable, and the graphics and music are the standard by which all other coverage is judged. But when James Conrad released it envy Calvin Heimburg’s face reached levels of emotional distress like never before, something that cannot be adequately presented in the publication.

Watching the latest round of Gomez’s coverage of the world of 2021 is a strange experience. It’s a TV series. By the time it loaded, everyone knew exactly what happened, including the player comment team that was visible in the background on the last hole. Their reactions to throwing the ball were embarrassing and compulsive. This is not their fault. They are disc golfers who have had competitive success doing suspension work. They are not actors and should not be, but the moment perfectly illustrates the gap between a product post and live content to sell.

At the moment, Gomez and his crew are far superior at the actual sale. Their website is better, their characters are some of the biggest stars in sports, and their merchandise is even better. Their e-commerce skills are straightforward, while DGPT.com/shop is more difficult to navigate and basically consists of a series of items with the DGPT logo on them. The Pro Tour and its network also pale in comparison to the communications department. There always seems to be a need for a “how to” email explaining how to navigate their product. it’s a problem.

The practical question is whether or not this gap will close. There is no doubt that compiling a live TV broadcast is a very difficult and very intense task, and one that DGN has greatly improved over the past few years. But so far, the Disc Golf Pro round has yet to turn it into an annual profit.

In the end, it’s Team GomesePro’s business acumen that paints the clearest picture of the future ahead. For a decade, they’ve been ahead of the curve in disc golf content, and their current moves suggest live streaming is on their minds. They purchased the post-production rights to all Elite Series events from the Pro Tour this year for a hugely popular $500,000, but their other behavior is more interesting. They tend to have what Ian Anderson describes as fun content. The off-season “Putting Game” kept things going when there were no tournaments going on. They’ve been paired with Paige Pierce and her phenomenal marketing ability on her podcast, “Approachable”; With popular YouTuber Trash Panda Disc Golf on golf history podcast “Patent Pending;” And they bring back the style of the talk show “Showmez”. All opportunities may be for more ecommerce reviews of their own, but what may be the most compelling move hit my inbox while I was ready to write this article.

In case you didn’t already know, what we’re doing is the final round of worlds this year, we’ll take over the Granada Theater in Emporia and put BigSexyBarri on stage to perform their commentary right in front of a crowded house! We added special guests including StarFrame who will present a DJ lineup filled with your favorite JomezPro tunes with a few surprises! You can expect loads of laughter and fun while we try something new for the first time!

The then-produced golf disc content face dipping its toes into the live content, albeit through a side door. It’s a great idea, even if their first attempt contains some hiccups that inevitably appear during the live broadcast! While sticking with the post-production business, they’re also riding the winds of change as they always have. That’s – says Disney’s bounty bounty hunter – the way to go. I expect to see other post-production outlets follow suit: continuing to improve tournament coverage, diversifying their product line, and inevitably getting into the live action business. Whether or not this will be able to sustain their business, which obviously depends on showing overall coverage, remains to be seen. For my money, Gomez and his crew will find a way to make it work, even in a world where Pro Tour stops selling lead card rights to outside post-production companies.

So is post-production coverage doomed to fail? I don’t think so, but his time of dominance is likely to be over sooner rather than later. Only those who are willing to adapt will survive.

Correction: Paige Pierce’s podcast is titled “Approachable” not “Unapproachable”

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