Bleacher Report Live’s pay-per-view livestream of Friday’s golf match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson did not go as planned, and now pay TV operators are shelling out refunds.
Consumers attempting to access “The Match: Tiger vs. Phil” on Friday were met with authentication issues and app failures, which eventually led Turner, which owns and operates B/R Live, to lift the paywall.
"'The Match' was an historic event, from Tiger's opening tee shot to Phil's final putt," Turner said in a statement. "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."
After B/R Live’s stream became free, many pay TV operators followed suit for customers that bought the event on their respective PPV platforms.
Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox, DirecTV, Dish Network and Sling TV all confirmed to CNBC that they would be issuing refunds to any of their customers who paid $19.95 to view the event.
Considering the time and effort Turner sunk into promoting the event, the chain of events that led to all the refunds is particularly unfortunate.
Shortly after completing its Time Warner acquisition and creating its new WarnerMedia division earlier this year, AT&T announced it had scored rights to the match. AT&T planned to offer the event across DirecTV, U-verse and B/R Live as well as air pregame coverage on HBO. But the coverage of the event has now taken a backseat to the problems with the livestream.
Dan Rayburn, principal analyst for Frost & Sullivan, was following as the issued unfolded Friday and determined the problems were not network-related.
“From what I can tell so far, the issues all appear to be on the front-end and not with the CDNs delivering the video as you can’t even get to the video to watch it. Whichever vendors(s) are responsible for the failures are costing Bleacher Report a lot of money and will need to issue massive refunds,” Rayburn wrote in a blog post.
B/R Live is run on iStreamPlanet’s Orbis direct-to-consumer platform. Orbis, which launched in the U.S. and internationally this year, offers content owners ways to build streaming apps with personalized experiences and different monetization models.
Turner acquired a majority stake in iStreamPlanet in 2015.