PGA TOUR, LPGA Land New Broadcast Deals
The PGA TOUR and LPGA have signed agreements with broadcast and streaming media that cover the 2022 – 2030 seasons.
Financial terms of the agreements were not disclosed, but the broadcast deals follow:
For the PGA TOUR, CBS and NBC cover most FedExCup tournaments, with CBS averaging 19 events and NBC eight events each season. NBC and CBS will alternate broadcasting the three FedExCup Playoffs events each year, starting with NBC in 2022.
There are two possible explanations for the alternating networks: Either they both really wanted the FedEx Cup Playoffs and had to settle for sharing. Or, neither really wanted it and therefore sharing is a way to redue losses.
NBC Sports also will continue as the TOUR’s cable partner, with GOLF Channel providing all early-round coverage and early weekend coverage of every FedExCup event each season, along with PGA TOUR Champions and the Korn Ferry Tour.
Interestingly, the PGA TOUR assumes responsibility of the weekly onsite production area and technical infrastructure. CBS and NBC will still use their own production and on-air teams, led by their producers, directors and production personnel. That may have been necessary with the alternating network coverage. Or, it may be the broadcasters trying to reduce their own costs.
Negotiating in concert with the PGA TOUR, the LPGA will continue to be featured on NBC’s GOLF Channel. The tour also will receive expanded coverage on NBC and CBS beyond the U.S. Women’s Open, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and AIG Women’s British Open, which are already on network.
Under the new agreement, PGA TOUR LIVE — the TOUR’s subscription service — will begin airing on ESPN+ beginning in 2022. PGA TOUR LIVE on ESPN+ will offer four live feeds from 36 tournaments, for more than 4,000 hours of coverage. It will be available to ESPN+ subscribers as part of the base subscription.
In any case, it sounds like there will be a lot of golf to watch going forward.
The new agreements seem to speak to two things: the strength of golf as a sport, and the need for content.
That broadcasters are willing to dive so deep into golf content suggests that the professional sport is healthy. The nine year agreement likely will be largely Tiger-less, so broadcasters apparently believe there is life after Woods.
The need for content of any kind surely factors into the deal. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the expansion of cable and satellite channels made networks desperate for content. While Tiger is often credited for the rapid increase in purses during that period, the statistical truth of the matter is that ALL of the major sports saw massive increases in revenues. In fact, the PGA TOUR was in the middle of the pack in terms of growth.
The latest expansion of coverage probably reflects a similar desperation on the part of broadcasters for content. As we move away from cable and satellite, the nearly infinite number of streaming “channels” will need a nearly infinite amount of content. Expect to see other blockbuster deals from other sports.
As a side note, I found it interesting that the LPGA and PGA TOUR were negotiating in partnership. I wonder if it’s a sign that the tours will merge in the future.