Fresh off strong tune-in (despite a conspicuous tech glitch) for his pay-per-view match against Phil Mickelson, golfer Tiger Woods has inked a multi-year global partnership with Discovery and GolfTV, its new streaming venture with the PGA Tour.
The deal offers Discovery and the PGA a significant marketing hook for GolfTV, which launches in January in several territories outside the U.S. It plans to stream 2,000 hours of live golf each year along with on-demand content. The parties are envisioning “a wide range of programming, content creation and storytelling opportunities,” according to a press release announcing the deal.
In an interview with Deadline, Discovery CEO David Zaslav emphasized that the alliance was “not going to be the traditional stuff” of golf telecasts. He said the deal reflected the initial sparks during a two-hour conversation he and Woods had about the potential for reaching future versions of a childhood Woods, who “would wait by the mailbox for golf magazines to arrive and then read them under the covers,” Zaslav said. “Once we got talking about the potential here, he said, ‘I am all in.'”
GolfTV content created with Woods will be available in the U.S. down the line but streaming internationally will be the main focus for now. GolfTV will light up January 1 in Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia and Spain. Other territories will be added through 2024. Domestic streaming will continue on PGA Tour Live, the golf circuit’s existing platform.
“There are very few people who anywhere in the world are not only recognized but people care what they have to say,” Zaslav said. “No one has heard what Tiger has to say.”
As to Turner’s tech issues, which caused parent WarnerMedia to issue refunds to many of the customers who forked over $19.99 to watch Woods play Mickelson, Zaslav was sanguine. “I’m not really concerned,” he said. “It has happened to every company–even the FAANG companies.” As Discovery has ramped up streaming in Europe and elsewhere, he added, “We’ve had a lot of success, but we’ve had a lot of fails. … Viewers will tolerate it.”
Discovery, which closed its acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive in March, has gained traction as a programmer carried by skinny-bundle pay-TV packages but has yet to mount a domestic stand-alone OTT service. Instead, it has emphasized its ability to target narrower groups, especially internationally, where its networks are widely distributed and where it owns potent assets like Eurosport, which is often called the ESPN of Europe. Eurosport has rights to the Olympics and prominent pro leagues in soccer, tennis and other sports.
The GolfTV partnership “will reveal Woods as fans have never seen him before,” the press release said. The streaming service plans to show Woods’ preparation routines and take viewers behind the scenes of PGA Tour rounds, as well as offering weekly practice and instructional videos and post-round commentary. One example Zaslav offered was something unique in the streaming world, albeit programming that would make only a hard-core golf fans salivate: watching Woods spending an hour hitting shot after shot out of the same sand trap.
“I’ve been watching Discovery and David Zaslav build up a global sports platform with Eurosport, the Olympics and the launch of GolfTV with us at the PGA Tour, so I think they’re the perfect partner to help grow the game,” Woods said in the release, calling it a “perfect fit” with himself, Discovery and the pro golf tour.
“I want to talk to golf fans and golfers everywhere — directly and straight from me. That’s important to me,” he added. “Talking about what we care about: what’s happening on the course, how to play better, how can I shoot lower scores tomorrow, how can I beat my friends? David explained how GolfTV is for the fans and the players, a single place they’ll all want to go, and he’s building something everyone will want.”
While U.S. streaming of PGA events is not part of the GolfTV plan for the time being, the programming developed with Woods will be exclusively owned by GolfTV on a global basis. Zaslav said Discovery would be able to use it to drive distribution revenue either solo or via a partnership.