The Masters dramatically expands its digital coverage in a departure from tradition
The Masters is actually opening things up this year and will let us watch more than ever.
The Masters likes to present itself as a tradition unlike any other and as a sporting event perhaps trapped in an earlier, simpler era. They do things different at Augusta National and are often critiqued for the antiquated nature of some of those ways. But often underneath the presentation is an embrace of all the latest technology working to keep the world’s most famous golf tournament on the cutting edge. It just may not be out in the public.
This year, Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley revealed some of what they’ve been up to behind the scenes and added that the public would now get to enjoy it at the 2019 Masters. At his traditional Wednesday press conference, Ridley announced that video of every shot from every player in the field should be available on the Masters website within minutes of it being struck. We’re still anxious to see exactly how this will work but that is a dramatic departure for a tournament that’s long held up the tradition of limited TV exposure.
Every year, the Twitter masses whip themselves up into a frenzy about the lack of TV coverage. It’s a tradition dating back to Clifford Roberts, the co-founder of Augusta, keeping coverage tight and limited. By contrast, the other three majors have TV coverage up and running almost from the very first tee shot for long 12 and 15-hour days through the first two rounds. At the Masters, TV is not live until 3 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and the broadcast is less than five hours.
The limited TV window may still be in place but the Masters has slowly expanded its digital operation and is now at the point of this dramatic step to show video of every shot. Prior to Ridley’s announcement, they had made the move in recent years to show featured groups from the very first tee. It was not until recently that we got that basic luxury, having to scoreboard watch the first several holes before we could ever see anything on the live streams. Now we get all 18 holes in the morning for Thursday and Friday featured groups. It seems like an obvious and unremarkable move in this era of unlimited streaming capabilities and demand for more coverage, but at the Masters, adding any amount of minutes shown is a significant and noticeable change.
The benevolent green jackets are also giving us Tiger on the featured groups stream on Thursday. That’s not always been the case either! For years, they purposefully passed on putting Tiger on the stream the one day he played in the morning, when TV was not available. It always drove people mad but was yet another “tradition” of Augusta going a different direction and maybe flexing some muscle. Now we get the most in-demand golfer of all time and the biggest draw in the history of the sport on the featured group stream of the biggest event of the year. It makes sense that this is the case, but it wasn’t always like this!
You can find first round tee times here and below is your streaming and media schedule for the opening round at the Masters. All times ET:
Thursday’s first round coverage
3-7:30 p.m.: Live first round coverage - ESPN
8-11 p.m.: Replay of first round coverage - ESPN
3-7:30 p.m., 8-11 p.m.: Simulcast of TV coverage on WatchESPN
Available at Masters.com
9:58 a.m. to completion (~7:30 p.m.): Featured groups stream
- 9:58 a.m. ET: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Tony Finau
- 11:04 a.m. ET: Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm, Haotong Li
- 1:38 p.m. ET: Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Jason Day
- 2 p.m. ET: Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Paul Casey
10:45 a.m.-6 p.m.: Amen Corner live stream
11:45 a.m.-7 p.m.: Nos. 15 and 16 live stream
2 p.m.-completion: Masters Radio - Masters.com