CHICAGO (Jan. 29, 2018) – Professional Bowlers Association fans have selected Australia’s Jason Belmonte, a four-time PBA Player of the Year, to try to end Wes Malott’s reign as PBA King of Bowling in a ground-breaking live streaming event on Facebook Live on Tuesday, Feb. 6, from AMF Riviera Lanes in Fairlawn, Ohio, kicking off the return of the PBA Tournament of Champions week to the historic bowling center in suburban Akron.
The best-of-three-game match will be available simply by visiting the PBA’s page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ProfessionalBowlersAssociation/) at 6:30 p.m. EST on Feb. 6. The special event will be the first PBA event to air exclusively on Facebook Live. The event will be produced by the PBA staff with PBA Hall of Famer Marshall Holman, newly-elected PBA Hall of Famer Chris Barnes and PBA Tour champion Rhino Page calling the action.
“The PBA has been steadily improving its presence on Facebook with an increase in video highlights and live press conferences on our page, which is up to 200,000 followers and had more than four million video views during the recent WSOB alone,” said PBA CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark in announcing the new Facebook Live relationship. “Taking this next step to a live event shown in its entirety, and working with the sports team at Facebook to make it happen, is exciting for the PBA as we navigate into our 60th Anniversary season.
“The PBA has always been on the cutting edge of presentation platforms for the greatest bowlers in the world, from national broadcast TV on ABC starting in 1962 to cable TV on ESPN starting in 1979 to direct-to-consumer streaming video of events on Strike Pass and Xtra Frame since 2001,” he continued. “This next foray for the PBA Network – presenting a live event in its entirety on the Facebook platform – is another exciting step in providing our fans with diverse, comprehensive access to our players and to PBA competition at all levels.
“The PBA King of Bowling and the incredible run by Wes Malott has proven to be a popular series, with unprecedented access for viewers to the players in an intense one-on-one setting. We expect to have the most-watched bowling event in Facebook history on February 6.”
Belmonte, a 16-time PBA Tour champion and the reigning GEICO Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year after winning an unprecedented three major championships in 2017, was selected as Malott’s opponent in fan voting conducted on pba.com and Twitter. He narrowly out-polled PBA Hall of Famers Pete Weber and Norm Duke, and Barnes – all TOC title holders.
Belmonte will be the first player in the King of Bowling series, which got its start in 2009, to face Malott for a second time. In April 2017, Malott posted a 721 three-game series at Bayside Bowl in Portland, Maine, to defeat EJ Tackett and Belmonte, who recorded 664 and 640 series, respectively, in a three-game total pinfall match. In eight title-defense matches thus far, Malott has never lost, defeating Barnes, Patrick Allen, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Rhino Page, Parker Bohn III, Tackett/Belmonte and, most recently, Tommy Jones.
The King of Bowling match will unofficially kick off the PBA Tournament of Champions’ return to AMF Riviera Lanes for the first time since 1994. Qualifying and match play rounds will be held on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday leading into Sunday’s live ESPN finals at 1 p.m. EST. All preliminary rounds will be live streamed on PBA’s Xtra Frame (visit xtraframe.tv for subscription information).