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How to Use Live Sports Event Strategies at a Trade Show

Find out how a “fly cam” and other broadcasting tactics were used at this year's P.G.A. Merchandise Show.

By Mitra Sorrells January 27, 2015, 9:35 AM EST

Following a segment on the newest trends in golf carts, on-air personalities from the Golf Channel’s Morning Drive show used some of the carts to exit their studio on the show floor.

Photo: Matthew Harris/The PGA of America

What a difference three years can make. In 2012, the P.G.A. Merchandise Show tested the concept of giving consumers a look inside the event at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando by producing videos from the show floor and sharing them on the event website and on golfchannel.com. It was a novel idea to give the public a view inside the show that is intended exclusively for P.G.A. professionals and retailers. The pilot program was such as success—particularly with exhibitors who appreciated the exposure to a broader audience—that organizers have expanded it each year.

The 2015 show, which wrapped up Friday, included live broadcasts from more than a dozen radio and TV outlets and a variety of production strategies copied from live sports coverage. One of the most visible parallels: a “fly cam” suspended from a cable and spanning 1,200 feet down the show floor. The Golf Channel, which provided the camera, said it represents a record for the longest span of a camera at an indoor events (the record for an outdoor event stands at 3,800 feet during NBC’s Olympic coverage of downhill skiing).

“Viewers have become familiar with it in sports coverage such as football games, so we’ve picked up that technology and brought it to our show,” said Ed Several, senior vice president and general manager of P.G.A. Worldwide Golf Exhibitions. “The shots that will be sent back to viewers are incredible. It will give people an unprecedented look at the P.G.A. show from a brand-new vantage point.”

The fly cam was just one new element of the Golf Channel’s 15 hours of live coverage from the show. The network also broadcast the show’s opening ceremony live on Wednesday morning during its Morning Drive program.

“The grand opening has always been very important to our event because it sets the tone for the entire show. It’s our way to communicate the theme and get everyone enthusiastic about what they will see on the show floor,” Several said. “This year we’ve taken it to another level with live Golf Channel coverage. We are using it as a platform to not only provide a start to the show for the attendees but also use it as a platform to jump-start the excitement for the 2015 season for consumers.”

In past years organizers hosted the opening ceremony from a second-floor balcony in the convention center's lobby. This year they moved the stage to the main floor—closer to the attendees—so the live production would have a feel similar to ESPN’s College GameDay, according to Several.

In addition to the Golf Channel, SiriusXM produced 35 hours of programming from the show, and there were several other radio and TV broadcasts, as well.

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