6 things to know about the PGA Tour’s new uber-lucrative media rights deal

March 9, 2020
The cbs golf studio

The PGA Tour announced its new, long-awaited domestic media rights deal in a press release this morning. The nine-year agreement is with long-time Tour partners CBS Sports and NBC Sports, with the addition of ESPN to the fold as well.

The exact fiscal details of the agreement are not known, but there is still plenty to unpack about how golf will be delivered to consumers over the next decade. Here are six things to know about the deal.

1. Network TV partners are staying the same

While there are plenty of new elements in this deal, much of fans’ golf consumption will feel the same with CBS and NBC remaining as the network TV partners. Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo will be mainstays in your weekend golf coverage while Dan Hicks and Paul Azinger will have their fair share of airtime, too.

“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,” said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

While the way golf is covered on TV may change over the next decade, the channels they appear on will remain unchanged. NBC-owned Golf Channel will remain the Tour’s cable partner while giants CBS and NBC split network duties.

2. Streaming is headed to ESPN+

Consuming golf digitally is where things will change. PGA Tour Live — the Tour’s subscription service that launched in 2015 — will be broadcast exclusively on ESPN+ starting in 2022. According to the release, “it will be dramatically expanded to include multiple live content channels nearly every week of the FedExCup season.”

“We are looking forward to working with the PGA Tour to bring current and future golf fans the next generation of Tour coverage,” said ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro. “ESPN+ will offer golf fans unprecedented access and storytelling at an incredible value on the industry’s leading sports streaming platform.”

The expanded digital offering plans to deliver over 4,000 hours of golf coverage annually and will include coverage from 36 events each season.

3. The deal is reported in the neighborhood of $680 million

While the Tour will not disclose the financial details of the deal, Variety is reporting the figure to be in the neighborhood of $680 million for the life of the contract. The previous deal was valued around $400 million and the newly signed deal is reported to have been a negotiated 70 percent increase on that valuation.

“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.

4. Partnership with LPGA Tour

The deal also has a strategic partnership with the LPGA Tour, making the flagship women’s pro golf tour the anchor of programming on the Golf Channel. The LPGA Tour will now receive more exposure on NBC and CBS outside of their major championships, which are currently aired on the networks.

“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.

5. FedEx Cup events consolidating each year

The three FedEx Cup events will now air on the same channel at the conclusion of the season. Starting in 2022, broadcast of all three events will be on the same channel, either CBS or NBC, with the two channels alternating years. NBC will kick things off under this agreement for the 2022 FedEx Cup Playoffs.

6. Sponsor ties are key

The PGA Tour’s strong relationship with its sponsors played no small role in the deal.

“The marketplace for golf advertising is very strong and it’s important to remember that the Tour delivers to its broadcast partners roughly 70% of the advertising in its underpinning deals with title sponsors and FedEx,” said Sean McManus, chairman of CBS, in an interview with Variety. “We know each year that 70% is pre-sold, If you will, and that’s a real advantage. It helps unwind any risk we would have and enables them to have a significant but fair rights increase.”

The media companies have agreed to assist the Tour in creating more sponsor opportunities outside of golf, according to Variety.

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