If you paid $20 (or more) to watch Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson in The Match on pay-per-view, you might be clamoring for a refund after learning thousands of people were able to watch the event for free through Bleacher Report's BR Live service.
Golf fans and curious onlookers who went to the BR Live online service to purchase and stream the Woods-Mickelson match were having difficulty accessing the pre-match show and buying the main event 18-hole (turned out to be 22-hole) match between the two legends. However, when the pre-show ended and the two golfers began playing at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, the stream didn't cut off. It just kept going, as though the whole thing was free.
Confused viewers, like myself, turned to social media to not only question their great luck but also see if others were experiencing the same thing. After approximately one-third of The Match, it became clear Turner Sports and Bleacher Report were choosing to give away the event for free. As word spread of the free stream, thousands flooded the BR Live service to join in watching the $9 million tussle. At the same time, fans who spent the $20 through a cable or satellite provider to watch The Match were upset to learn they had paid for something that was free for way more people. They spoke of wanting (deservedly) refunds.
So, why did so many people get to stream The Match for free? According to ESPN, the Bleacher Report Live site experienced glitches which prevented people from watching the pre-show and purchasing the event. Ultimately, rather than frustrate fans on a fledgling, unfamiliar service and deny them the main event, they chose to open up the stream to all comers for free -- without registration, even.
BREAKING: Source says Turner execs decided to give Phil-Tiger match away for free on B/R Live streaming platform (instead of $20 charge) when purchase function broke down to point where those who bought had trouble getting in.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) November 23, 2018
This is a potentially embarrassing moment for BR Live, which may not have been prepared for the onslaught of viewers who wanted to watch the match online and purchase simultaneously. However, despite the unexpected wave of free viewers, the stream quality was solid and did not lag.
It's unclear if there will be any refunds for those who purchased the event from cable and satellite providers in the United States and Canada. That determination may well be left to Turner Sports, who could offer to pay for the refunds rather than the cable/satellite providers who may contend consumers did get what they paid for, in the end.
However, thousands more also got something they didn't pay for, too.