BOSTON, Mass – According to published reports in the Wall, Street Journal, AT&T and other big television distributors, are going to refund customers who paid $19.99 to watch a showdown between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
AT&T had intended to use the Pay-Per-View golf match as a showcase of its media capabilities after its acquisition of Time Warner. The online transmission fell victim to technical glitches and will become a money loser for the company.
Problems with AT&T’s Bleacher Report Live streaming video service prompted the company, shortly before the match began, to make the event free to viewers on the platform.
That in turn prompted viewers who had paid to watch the match through their cable or satellite providers to complain that others were able to watch it at no charge.
AT&T, which owns DirecTV, said it would offer refunds to its customers who paid for the event. A spokesman declined to say how many people paid or ended up watching it. Cable giants Comcast and Charter Communications and satellite-TV provider Dish Network said they wouldn’t charge their customers the $19.99 fee.
“We hope Turner and Bleacher Report will do the same given that the event was made available by them for free on The Bleacher Report website,” Comcast said in a statement.
Typically, programmers of an event, in this case Turner Sports, and distributors split the pay-per-view revenue generated from viewers buying the Pay-Per-View event. Terms of the agreed-upon split between Turner and distributors is unknown but the usual split is 50-50.
“Since Turner Sports streamed the event for free at the last minute due to technical issues,” Dish said, “we are happy to do the right thing for our customers and will be issuing credits to all customers who paid.”
Many viewers of B/R Live, a new sports portal under AT&T’s Bleacher Report brand, watched the match for free after the online service dropped its paywall.
It’s unclear how many people paid to watch the match, which Phil Mickelson won with a birdie on the 22nd hole, giving him the $9 million prize. The number of people who purchased the event will be available next week.
AT&T had spent months promoting the golf match, the first event of its kind to be telecast in a Pay-Per-View format.