Twitch’s gamer-heavy audience would not appear a fit for “real golf,” but T’d Up Golf has still found a home on the platform. The show, which pits two pairs of celebrities against each other on virtual golf courses, started as a one-off charity event amid the COVID-19 pandemic but has turned into a multiple-season project, averaging close to one million views on its recent episodes leading up to Monday’s season finale, and is now the cornerstone of a larger new media venture.
“This was the perfect fusion to create what should be golf on Twitch,” said Bull Horn Holdings CEO Rob Striar, who helped launch T’d Up. “I think people come to watch a little bit of the golf, but they stay for the conversation, the banter and the personality.” Thanks to fellow managing partner Pete Falcone—who has extensive experience organizing celebrity golf events as the CEO of JP Sports and Entertainment—the show premiered in July with Don Cheadle and has featured former sports stars like Jim McMahon and Eric Dickerson in recent weeks. Former Golf Channel host Holly Sonders has hosted the two-hour episodes from various True Spec Golf locations.
“Many athletes, celebrities, and musicians have come onto Twitch to interact with their audiences and T’d up provides a unique format that encourages that dialogue,” Twitch sports partnerships lead Eric Brunner said in an email.
American Family Insurance came on as the show’s first sponsor (marking its first deal on a Twitch property), but it will be joined by other brands when T’d Up returns in 2021. Striar and Falcone’s newly founded Group 33 is also developing shows focused on content ranging from cricket to the NBA. According to Striar, new shows could appear on other platforms—but “our preference is to do as much on Twitch as possible,” he added.
The streamer, which has leaned into more traditional sports coverage of late, has promoted the show on its homepage and its new Twitch Sports channel. Overall, Twitch set an engagement record with 1.7 billion hours of content being viewed during November.
“We didn’t mean to start a media company,” Striar said. “Now we’ve got all this great traction… because we’re looking at content a little differently. We’re focused on the fundamental shift in the way viewers consume content.”