The PGA Tour has announced a new nine-year domestic media rights portfolio for 2022 to 2030, extending deals with ViacomCBS and Comcast/NBC Sports and establishing a new long-term relationship with Disney and ESPN+.
The PGA called the package “the culmination of a long-term strategic planning process to best serve fans” through traditional broadcast, OTT and emerging technologies.
Financial details weren’t disclosed but appear to be a hefty increase. “The nine-year deals will put us in a position to significantly increase player earnings, deliver more value to our tournaments and sponsors, and ultimately allow us to continue to grow our charitable footprint,” Monahan said. In addition, “We are now able to reinvest in our sport in a way never before possible, including production, personnel and technology, and are well positioned to best serve and grow our fanbase in the years to come.”
Monahan added: “We were extremely pleased with the interest we received from the market – both with incumbents and other media companies – and are excited that our current partners shared our vision for the future, and we are equally excited to be back in business with Disney and ESPN+. These new deals will [bring] an elevated commitment from all three partners to help us expand and innovate our content and its delivery,” said PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan.
The agreements call for CBS and NBC to maintain weekend coverage of most FedExCup tournaments, with CBS averaging 19 events and NBC eight events each season. Under the new schedule, one network will televise all three FedExCup Playoffs events each year, starting with NBC in 2022 and generally alternating with CBS, “creating powerful, three-week coverage of the conclusion of the race for the FedExCup,” the announcement said.
NBC Sports Group’s Golf Channel will provide all early-round coverage and early weekend coverage of every FedExCup event each season, along with PGA Tour Champions and the Korn Ferry Tour. The Tour and NBC Sports will expand their collaborative content and programming relationship.
A central component of the new agreements will see the PGA Tour assume responsibility of the onsite production area and technical infrastructure each week, which the announcement said will let the Tour more efficiently aggregate, distribute and develop content for its various platforms worldwide. CBS and NBC will still use their own announcers, producers, directors and production personnel.
The Tour and its media partners will collaborate on sponsorship and marketing opportunities, inside and outside PGA Tour golf coverage, including access to the vast resources of ViacomCBS, Comcast/NBC Sports Group and Disney and ESPN+.
“We’re excited to extend NBC Sports’ historic partnership with the PGA Tour as its foundational media partner. We will continue to utilize our extensive platforms to showcase golf with unparalleled live tournament coverage, comprehensive news and high-quality content. Golf is a part of NBCUniversal’s DNA across our broadcast, cable, streaming and digital properties – nowhere more so than GOLF Channel,” said Pete Bevacqua, president, NBC Sports Group.
“Extending our successful long-standing relationship with the PGA TOUR was a top priority, and we are thrilled to add nine more years to this terrific partnership,” said Sean McManus, chairman, CBS Sports.
For the first time, the Tour’s digital rights were negotiated concurrently with its linear offering and will include a direct-to-consumer home at ESPN+. As a result of the new agreement, PGA Tour Live – the Tour’s subscription video service that was launched in 2015 – will live exclusively on ESPN+ beginning in 2022 and will be dramatically expanded to include multiple live content channels nearly every week of the FedExCup season.
Jimmy Pitaro, President, ESPN and co-chairman, Disney Media Networks said, “We are looking forward to working with the PGA Tour to bring current and future golf fans the next generation of Tour coverage. ESPN+ will offer golf fans unprecedented access and storytelling at an incredible value on the industry’s leading sports streaming platform.”
“The relationship with Disney and ESPN+ gives the TOUR the opportunity to expand and diversify audiences, and the TOUR and ESPN will work together to bring new and unique content to our fans,” said Rick Anderson, chief media officer, PGA Tour.
ESPN+ had 7.6 million subscribers as of February 3.
PGA Tour Live on ESPN+ will bring fans more than 4,000 hours of live streaming coverage annually. That will include live coverage from 36 tournaments – from the Tour’s Hawaii events in January all the way through the year – with at least 28 events having four full days of coverage, with four simultaneous live feeds each day. PGA Tour Live on ESPN+ will also feature on-demand replays of PGA Tour events, original golf programs, edited speed round recaps and more.
ESPN+ is available through the ESPN App, ESPN.com and ESPNplus.com. It is also available as part of a bundle offer with Disney+ and ad-supported Hulu.
As part of its Strategic Alliance with the LPGA, the PGA Tour also successfully negotiated rights agreements that will see the LPGA Tour continue as anchor programming on Golf Channel, along with expanded exposure for LPGA Tour events on NBC and CBS each year – beyond the U.S. Women’s Open, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and AIG Women’s British Open, which are already on network.
Specifically, the Tour secured the long-term extension of the LPGA/Golf Channel partnership (2022-2030) with ancillary programming, including a season preview, season review and Road to the CME Group Tour Championship. Golf Channel will provide dedicated programming for the Symetra Tour each year, as well as enhanced marketing and promotional assets and expanded benefits for LPGA sponsors.
As part of the agreement, the LPGA maintains control of all of its media rights outside the United States and receives expanded digital content rights.
“This agreement is an important milestone in the strategic partnership between the LPGA and the PGA Tour and a great example of the collaboration happening among golf’s biggest stakeholders,” said LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan.
“Thanks to the enhanced agreement with GOLF Channel and increased network coverage on NBC and CBS, more viewers in the U.S. and around the globe will experience the quality and diversity of the LPGA Tour. This gives us a domestic broadcast partner to help deliver another decade of unprecedented growth and provides a foundation that will springboard the women’s game into the future.”
“It’s exciting to know that when fans want to watch professional golf at the highest level, they are going to see both Tours on the same platforms – with the same partners – for the foreseeable future,” added Monahan.
Evolution Media Capital, a division of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), served as the media advisor to PGA Tour.