Future of PGA Tour TV Rights


Where would you all like to see the PGA Tour Rights go after the current deals expire (which I believe is in the next 2 -3 years)?


Fox, they have the best coverage by far carryingthe USGA events.


Agreed. Fox had a rough start in 2015 at Chambers but all of their other events have been top notch. In fact now I go threw with draws from Fox’s coverage for a few weeks after the US Open. #ProTracers galore


I just can’t convince myself to say FOX because that would mean Joe Buck would be the guy calling the shots. I love listening to him do football and baseball (something I never thought I’d say in 2010), but he has some work to do in golf.


I don’t think the networks will care w/o Tiger in the mix. Let’s face it, golf draws poorly and ranked dead last (behind nascar, hockey and of course MLB, NBA NFL) in a recent poll of sports execs. I’d say the best move for golf is to just stream. The Masters will own all rights to the Masters. The USGA will own their feeds and the PGA will own their feed. Amazon, Apple, Hulu could get in the mix, but I’m not sure the networks are the best fit.


I’m not sure this is entirely fair. Obviously golf isn’t going to outdraw NFL games, but televised coverage on CBS/NBC certainly pulls in more eyeballs than local shows or Seinfeld reruns. Plus, the meat of the golf schedule falls from February-September, meaning that it fills an afternoon programming niche while football is in its off-season. This will be especially true next year, when the PGA is moved to May and the FedEx Cup presumably gets bumped up to August.

Also, while I’m not a big “grow the game” nut, I would think that golf being streaming-only would hurt the game’s expansion. Golf has enough accessibility problems without requiring a subscription and broadband.


Whichever network gets Rich Lerner off of my TV


As much as we hate one channel or love another, the best option is to maintain the spread of TV rights to the national networks. I would get tired of seeing/hearing the same product from one channel.

I do think that the networks could a better job of promoting Tour rookies and not just focus on the handful of stars…I mean golf moves pretty slow and it would be easy to put up an on-screen bio as someone prepares to hit (see my example).


I say stream it. Amazon or youtube seems like the best fit.


Don’t you think streaming services would be hesitant to back a sport whose demo skews boomer?


More like the PGA Tour should be hesitant.

Look at the market for golf viewers: Small
Number of streamers: Smaller
Number of streamers who are golf fans? Even smaller
Number of streamers who are golf fans willing to stream? Tiny


Turnkey Sports poll from last September

Not saying this is the Bible, but it’s an interesting barometer for the appetite for the product. And with no breakout/transcendent star on the horizon, it’s not looking much better.

Hate to break it to @scuff, but when Peter Uihlein hits the screen that’s a sandwich break for most Americans. So if you think his college/amateur career is going to entice the “small market” to tune in, it’s not.

And to @JDWilson’s point, let’s not treat streaming like it’s writing code. Smart TVs make it easy to stream. Everyone I know streams, especially the under 30 crowd at the office (none of which have cable now that youtube TV is out. Psst. They share a password.)

The Refuge is a small silo of golf fans. Pretty serious ones, too. We value golf a lot more than the vast majority of Americans so our view of it’s value is skewed at best. Keep in mind, a lot of Americans watch golf to fall asleep…That’s pretty telling.

Golf is a niche sport and here’s nothing wrong with that. Let the treatment of it (the coverage for it) be creative. Bespoke. Different. Kind of like NLU.


While I agree with you that in a post Tiger Woods world on tour, fewer eye balls will be on tv screens than there were when these tv deals were inked, don’t underestimate who those eye balls belong to.

At the risk of sounding pompous, the crowd that is watching final round coverage of the Genesis in February or the Heritage in April, is typically who advertisers want to get their product in front of the most. Those are well-heeled professionals to younger retirees with disposable income. As the next generation takes the torch, the viewing audience will trend younger and like the generation before them, come into disposable income. They will buy the products being hawked during coverage giving advertisers a great value, perhaps a better one than advertising during a race or baseball game.


Solid take- you make a strong point and sound well-informed- not pompous at all.
I’ll ask a few hypothetical questions: Do those well-heeled professionals and young retirees have Amazon? Apple TV? Netflix? Youtube Live? I bet they do. Advertisers can reach them there. If you asked some of those well-heeled professionals what their favorite shows are, they’ll probably tell you Narcos, House of Cards, Game of Thrones, The Man in the high Castle, but I doubt many will name a single traditional network show. It’s a different landscape.
And the next generation that’ll take the torch? Very few have the time to sit around and watch 3 hours of golf. They don’t even watch the NFL, they watch Redzone.
And the generation after that watching the Genesis Open? Totally different consumer mind set. Why would they buy a $50K Genesis sedan when they can rideshare/rent on demand with Turo or Zipcar. That’s a real issue for automakers today.

You make a valid point that’s been made for 50 years- people who watch golf have a lot of disposable income. Totally agree. But there are fewer and fewer of them, interest is low, so why not get creative with how you reach them and the avenues you take to get to get the product out.
We can sit in a golf forum and talk about how great the game is, but 2,000 sports industry professionals rated golf behind the NHL and NASCAR. I say fine- let’s get creative and get the coverage into the hands of people who do great stuff with other formats. I mean, would you rather watch the new Chris Rock special on NBC or Netflix…


You misunderstood what I said. I said that the Tour could do a better job of promoting their rookies. A simple graphic with biographical information would greatly reduce the time it takes for people to become familiar with certain golfers. Is anyone going to tune in because they saw Uihlein’s bio and become a huge fan? Probably not…but familiarizing the audience with more names could greatly increase the time spent viewing when one of the top 10 names in golf is out of contention.

Also, do you know how many people know of a professional golfer just because of what university they attended? For college diehards (think Duke, UNC, UK, Alabama, Oklahoma State) there is a good amount. And every bit of positive affiliation helps especially when you are dealing with a cheap and simple addition of a graphic w/ information already supplied to the Tour.


I’ve given it a good bit of thought as I like to follow media trends and I think it really depends on the networks, cable, streaming landscape.

I could see ESPN getting back in as they try to hang on to cord-cutters and launch their streaming service. I do think a big traditional outlet will retain the rights though, and it won’t move fully to streaming. I could also see a world where only the Majors and a few select events are shown on CBS/FOX/NBC. I wouldn’t mind that if whoever gets the remaining events treat them well and put some thought and care into the presentation. While I suspect we get more of the same, it’d be interesting what another group may do to enhance it. Fox got us tracers galore!


I certainly like the spread of coverage amongst the networks. It allows them to fill dead air in the offseason and freshens up the product. You see CBS jumping on the pro tracer since Fox came in and had it on just about every hole. NBC started the play through commercials and now all the networks are getting advertisers on board. Imagine if CBS was the only provider and every week it was glamour shots, dead air, and a couple “just a moment ago” putts.

For the streaming angle, I subscribe to PGA Tour Live but I have a co-worker who is in his late 40s-early 50s who will record the coverage and watch the following day. I don’t think you’ll get those types to convert fully to streaming. Yes, technology is getting better and better but lest we forget, HD has only been around for 15ish years and people were still using antennae’s before the gov’t mandated digital feeds. Seems like now the mass public is just coming around to the new advancements. In another 10 years, we might view streaming differently (in my opinion there will be now cable or internet packages but rather a data package where you use your TV as a quasi streaming service) but until then, the networks need live sports to distribute to the masses that only have those basic channels.

What I would like to see is a pay-per-view service like PGA Tour Live that runs based on your preferences - aka cameras on every golfer so you can pick who you want to watch. You would still have the network broadcast that would focus on the leaders/etc but with fantasy and DFS becoming more prevalent, people want to follow their guys. I also think incorporating shot link into broadcasts more would be great and perhaps some more strokes gained data. This would be in an overlay on the pay-per-view.

All in all, really excited for the future. Golf is turning so techy that they can do a lot with stats, visuals, etc to boost engagement.


Fox do a decent job, pictures wise. Azinger is good if he has someone to talk to always thought he & Faldo were good together.

NBC will need a new Miller like soon & it seems Leonard is the front runner for that spot atm. Which is underwhelming.

CBS is a mess.

I’d rather watch PGA Tour Live than Golf Channel for early round coverage.

I’d like to see ABC/ESPN get back in the game but I doubt it.


Thanks for clarifying. Golf is a meritocracy. Rookies on leaderboards should get their fair share but don’t because the networks cater to the masses, so your point is spot on in that regard.

And FWIW I don’t associate with Duke fans on principle.


Totally agree. “Promoting” the unknown young guys is not the way to go. They are unknown for a reason. Plus, CBS tried this concept like 15 years ago. I think they called it “The New Breed” or some such. Boring character profiles of boring white boys that replaced live golf action. Ugh. I admit there is a tension between what hardcore tour followers like us want versus what might pull new viewers into the game.