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Higher-than-expected viewership of 'The Match' between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson forces refunds, WSJ reports

Key Points
  • Viewer interest in "The Match" between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on Friday far surpassed AT&T's expectations, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • The $19.99 pay-per-view subscription fee was dropped due to technical glitches from the high volume of viewers.
  • AT&T and other major pay-TV providers including Comcast, Dish, and Charter Communications said they would refund or credit customers who paid to watch the showdown.
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Tiger and Phil match turns out to be a dud

Viewer interest in "The Match" between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson far surpassed AT&T's expectations, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The $19.99 pay-per-view subscription fee was dropped due to technical glitches from the high volume of viewers. AT&T and other major pay-TV providers including Comcast, Dish and Charter Communications said they would refund or credit customers who paid to watch Friday's golf showdown.

AT&T was entitled to have the subscription revenue generated by other pay-TV providers, but the company will not seek out the fees, people familiar with the matter told the Journal.

Initial estimates for viewers of "The Match" were only as high as 150,000, an official told the Journal. But about 750,000 people alone watched the contest just on the video service B/R live, part of the Bleacher Report's digital platform. The total number of sign-ups and views, including those from other pay-TV providers, has not yet been released.

AT&T's Turner Media President David Levy said B/R never had a problem streaming video, but its system to collect payment information did not have the capacity to collect so much credit card information, blocking people from purchasing the event, the Journal reported.

Despite the refunds, Levy told the Journal the event was successful, and bodes well for the future of pay-per-view, noting that every advertiser involved in "The Match" wants to come back.

Read the full Journal report here.

Disclosure: Comcast is parent of NBCUniversal and CNBC.

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Key Points
  • Mickelson won it in overtime on the 22nd hole under floodlights, making a four-foot birdie putt on a specially set up 93-yard, par three.
  • "Just know I will never let you live that down. It's not the Masters or the U.S. Open, but it is nice to have a little something on you," Mickelson said to Woods afterwards, claiming the $9 million winner-takes-all prize.
  • The match at Shadow Creek Golf Club was billed as golf's first pay-per-view broadcast but ended up free for many viewers because of technical problems.