Sign-ups blew away initial projections.
March 23, 2020 by Charlie Eisenhood in News with comments
After just one paywalled live disc golf round, the Disc Golf Pro Tour’s new over-the-top video service, the Disc Golf Network, had more than 6,500 paying subscribers.
After announcing the service on February 18th, the DGPT previewed the service with some video exclusives during The Memorial while making their live coverage of the tournament entirely free to watch. Over 1,000 people signed up.
But the service grew tremendously as they approached the first round of the WACO Annual Charity Open, the service’s first live disc golf exclusively available behind the paywall. With lots of fanfare about Brodie Smith being featured on the card, the Disc Golf Network blew away first year expectations from the Tour.
“Internal goals were lower,” said DGPT Tour Director Jeff Spring. The Pro Tour expected to reach around 2,000 subscribers by year’s end, with 3,000 as their high end estimate.
“Doubling the high end financial projection is certainly eye-opening to us,” said Spring. “I think that it does open the door for new thoughts when it comes to, ‘Where are we taking the live broadcasts? What resources should we consider?’”
The numbers are especially impressive in light of the 2019 US Disc Golf Championships paid signups to watch the live coverage last fall: 2,500.
The Disc Golf Network’s easy-to-use interface along with its steady stream of new content like interviews and analysis (as well as a large collection of past seasons’ DGPT round coverage) have proven popular with disc golf fans.
But the eye-popping signup numbers for just a single round of paywalled coverage so far has led to speculation that Brodie Smith’s audience was a driving force. Spring said that Smith’s effect was “significant. It’s hard to say past that. It’s clear that there was a significant effect.” But Spring also noted that the fact that it was the first round that required paying to watch and a generally high awareness of the round were probably bigger factors in the uptick.
Subscriber numbers have tailed off since then, as disc golf’s Elite Series is shut down through at least the end of April due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The DGPT’s Jonesboro Open has been postponed, as have Silver Series events Throw Down the Mountain and The Open at Tallahassee. As of last week, more than 500 subscribers had cancelled.
The next potential DGPT event is the San Francisco Open in late May; the 303 Open in early May is the next Silver Series stop. Neither event has announced plans to alter their schedule due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Despite the indefinite postponement of the Tour, Spring was optimistic about the long-term health of the subscription service. “It’s certainly 100% viable — in our minds, in the fans’ minds, in our partners’ minds,” he said.
“We’re excited that the start has been so successful,” he continued. “And we were on a path to much higher numbers before this happened. But we feel that the most important thing is to be responsible in this time of national crisis.”