NBC Sports Group and golfer Rory McIlroy have teamed to launch Golfpass, a $10-a-month subscription package that bundles video streaming of golf tournaments and instruction with travel, shopping and tee-time benefits.
The founders are calling it a “first-of-its-kind” direct-to-consumer initiative. Discovery and Tiger Woods got some attention last November with their non-U.S. streaming partnership GolfTV, but NBC Sports executives stressed in a briefing that Golfpass is a more comprehensive lifestyle offering.
Launching in the U.S. for now, Golfpass plans to soon expand to the UK (the No. 2 global golf market, after the U.S.) and Australia in short order.
During a press briefing, McIlroy and Mike McCarley, president of golf for the NBC Sports Group, both repeatedly underscored the strong emotional connection they both felt to golf legend Arnold Palmer, who founded the Golf Channel in 1995. NBC parent Comcast took full control of the channel in 2003. In the way that Palmer sought to pass the torch through instruction and instilling passion for the game in players young and old, new and seasoned, the new venture will try to be a tech-enabled source of inspiration.
“Creating Golfpass with NBC Sports was driven by my desire to enrich the golf experience for fans all around the world,” McIlroy said. McCarley said the goal of the subscription offering is “to make golf more accessible and fun using NBC Sports’ portfolio of golf tech and services that help better connect golfers to the sport.” He called McIlroy “an approachable, genuine and global ambassador for golf” who is “also eager to modernize how golfers engage with the sport in their daily lives.”
Along with 4,000 different instructional videos shot on courses around the world, Golfpass has a library of 1,000 hours, ranging from classic tournament footage to behind-the-scenes series showing the daily lives of pro golfers. Each month, subscribers will also get a free round of golf, a dozen golf balls and discounts on equipment, tournament fees and travel.
While there is significant branding on the platform, with gear, travel destinations getting prominent placement, McCarley said the goal will be to grow subscriptions and not to emphasize advertising revenue. He said Golfpass, which took two years to develop, builds on three previous direct-to-consumer membership businesses NBC Sports Group has built or acquired: GolfNow, Revolution Golf and Golf Advisor.