March 20, 2015
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

One Of The Five ‘Majors’ Just Got Even Bigger: Payette River Games Secures TV Broadcast Deal

Payette River Games stand up paddling

As if a $50,000 prize purse and the title of “Funnest event of the year” weren’t already enough of a drawcard, now we’ve all got one more reason to register for the 2015 Payette River Games: An exclusive broadcast deal with CBS Sports Network.

Race organisers recently signed an agreement with the cable channel that will see the PRGs given the full post-production treatment and an exclusive timeslot in July. I haven’t been able to confirm exact air dates yet, however it seems likely to be happening within weeks of the event itself (race weekend is June 19-21).

For the uninitiated, the Payette River Games is a whitewater river race held in the very scenic Idaho countryside. It boasts the richest prize purse in the world of stand up paddling ($50,000 split equally between men and women) and looks set to attract one of the most competitive fields on the planet (it’ll certainly be a major contributor to the SUP Racer World Rankings this year).

But the PRGs is more than just a SUP race. This is part-festival, part-lumberjack-tournament, part-party in the Idaho countryside. It’s one the most unique events on the entire stand up paddling calendar.

And now it’s going to be on TV.


The Payette River Games’ TV deal with CBS Sports Network echoes the major deal struck by the Ultimate SUP Showdown last year, putting it in very exclusive company as one of the only SUP races in the world to have a dedicated airing on the small screen. Even the other majors such as the BOP don’t have TV deals, while uber-prestigious events such as Molokai 2 Oahu are generally limited to highlight reels.

So this is kinda big news.

Though even before word of this TV broadcast deal filtered through, earlier this year I’d already selected the Payette River Game as one of the five “Majors” in the world of SUP racing. Apart from its world-record prize purse and all star lineup, the event offers some very unique racing conditions…

At a time when every SUP race seems to follow the same formula (course race plus distance race, usually on flat water), the Payette River Games offers a truly unique SUP racing experience. It’s not all crazy whitewater spills and thrills – in fact most of the course at the PRGs is relatively flat (which keeps the ocean guys and girls somewhat competitive against the river specialists) – but this race is very challenging and it is very, very entertaining.

After watching/competing in the race myself last year, I became convinced this would make a better TV spectacle than any other event in the sport. Fortunately, the execs at CBS seem to agree.

Payette River Games Cascade Idaho

Though even forgetting the TV deal, the big prize purse, the famous faces and the awesomely entertaining conditions for a moment, the truly wonderful thing about the Payette River Games is that it’s held for a good cause. This isn’t some for-profit corporate enterprise, the entire PRGs weekend is designed to support the local community in a very positive way.

In short: The Payette River Games helps fund the operating costs of its host venue, Kelly’s Whitewater Park, which is run by a not-for-profit group. The park remains free and open to the public all year, giving locals a valuable resource at a time when entertainment options in country towns are fast dwindling. Additionally, there are dozens of free kids clinics and paddling camps held right through the warmer months.

Kelly’s Whitewater Park is a great cause and the Payette River Games is a great event. I can’t wait to return to Idaho in June, though I guess we all better get training now that the cameras will be rolling…

MORE >> Payette River Games – Full Coverage

Oh and just in case you’ve been living under a rock (on Mars, with your fingers in your ear), the here’s what the Payette River Games looks like. You can register now on the very slick official website.