Viewers who paid $20 (really, $19.99) to watch The Match pitting Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson at Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas may be getting a refund.
Bleacher Report's BR Live, Spectrum, Comcast, AT&T U-Verse, DirecTV, Cox Communications and Dish TV (and their Sling TV service) have all announced they'll be issuing refunds for the purchase price of the $9 million, winner-take-all match after Turner Sports chose to give away the golf match free through their online stream.
Scores of viewers who tried to order The Match through the BR Live platform reported having trouble even finding a place to pay for it. As the pre-match show gave way to the actual broadcast of the 18- (eventually, 22-) hole contest featuring Woods and Mickelson, viewers didn't face a paywall asking them to pony up the money.
Bleacher Report made the last-minute decision to give away The Match for free online after BR Live website and app users struggled to get through the purchase process because of an undisclosed issue. Rather than face backlash for their nascent service failing in its first big showcase opportunity, Turner Sports chose to eat the cost and make sure fans had a good streaming experience, which they did, for free.
After watching several holes for free, viewers realized they weren't going to have to pay and took to social media to express some mixture of confusion and gratitude. However, fans viewing the match after paying $20 were unhappy to learn they had paid up beforehand and wondered about a potential refund.
DirecTV is owned by AT&T, which just completed a merger with Time Warner, which includes Turner Sports and Bleacher Report.