AT&T bets golf fans will pay to watch Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson
Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson: It’s the mano-a-mano golf match that fans would have drooled over 15 years ago — but will anyone care in 2018?
That will be the big question for AT&T Inc. T, -2.16% , which announced Wednesday it will air a pay-per-view match over Thanksgiving weekend between the two greatest golfers of their era.
Woods and Mickelson, already the two biggest moneymakers in golf history, will face off Nov. 23 at Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas for a winner-take-all prize of $9 million — by far a richer payday than any major golf tournament.
“It’s on,” Woods said in a tweet.
It’s on @PhilMickelson #TigerVSPhil pic.twitter.com/PZivYPOEf5
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) August 22, 2018
Mickelson, who just joined Twitter on Wednesday, returned the trash talk, saying “I bet you think this is the easiest $9M you will ever make. . . . Let’s do this.”
AT&T said it will distribute live pay-per-view coverage on a number of its platforms, including DirecTV, AT&T U-verse and sports streaming site B/R Live. The company said the match will also be available on other on-demand platforms, and a rebroadcast will air on the TNT network. The pay-per-view price was not announced.
In a statement, AT&T said the two will be able to make side challenges: “Woods and Mickelson will selectively make side-challenges against one another during the match. For instance, Woods or Mickelson could raise the stakes by challenging the other to a long-drive, closest-to-the-pin or similar competition during a hole as they play their match, with money being donated to the winning golfer’s charity of choice.”
Woods, 42, and Mickelson, 48, were once heated rivals, though their relationship has softened over the years. Woods has won 14 major championships in his career, but none since the 2008 U.S. Open. He’s been wracked by injuries since and his winning days appeared over, but he surprisingly contended at this summer’s British Open and PGA Championship. Mickelson has five career majors, his last at the 2013 U.S. Open.
Golf experienced a TV ratings boom during Woods’ prime years, and has suffered during his career downswing. But he’s still a major draw — ratings soar for tournaments that he plays in, and last month’s PGA Championship, in which Woods finished second, was the tournament’s most-watched since 2009.
AT&T shares were up a fraction in after-hours trading. In June, it closed its acquisition of Time Warner Inc. after winning approval in court, but the Justice Department is appealing that ruling. AT&T shares are down about 16% this year, compared to the S&P 500’s SPX, -0.04% 7% gain.
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