PGA Tour’s new rights deal adds ESPN+

The Tour’s FedEx-sponsored tournaments will continue to air on CBS and NBC. But the PGA Tour Live subscription video service will move to Disney’s ESPN+ streaming service. (Getty Images)

The PGA Tour doesn’t aim to stray too far from its existing course with the nine-year rights deal it announced yesterday. That 2022-2030 domestic arrangement retains the tour’s existing coverage on CBS and NBC but adds live streaming on Disney’s ESPN+ service.

The Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., sports organization did not cite any dollar figures, but Variety’s Brian Steinberg cited a $400 million reported valuation for the previous deal and a 70% increase to estimate the new arrangement would yield at least $680 million.

Alan Wolk, lead analyst and co-founder at TV[R]EV, called that believable. “Golf is generally a high net-worth audience,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “For that alone it sounds worth it.”

The Tour’s FedEx-sponsored tournaments will continue to air on CBS and NBC; the former will get an average of 19 events and the latter eight per season during the deal.

But the PGA Tour Live subscription video service will move to Disney’s ESPN+ streaming service, providing 4,000 hours of live coverage of 36 tournaments. That OTT sports service launched in April 2018 at a $4.99/month rate; last year, it also became available in a bundle with Disney’s Disney+ service and Hulu for $12.99 a month.

The LPGA Tour, meanwhile, will remain on the Golf Channel, but the PGA Tour’s release promises “expanded exposure” for women’s golf events on NBC and CBS.

In a statement, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said, “These new deals will be a major win for our fans, bringing an elevated commitment from all three partners to help us expand and innovate our content and its delivery.”

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Wolk called the addition of ESPN+ a sound strategy in principle.

“There’s not a huge audience for it, so putting it on a streaming service, especially given who watches golf, is probably not the worst thing,” he said. “It’s going to be an older audience, slightly more affluent.”

Plus, streaming services bring a bonus beyond just expanded viewership. “It also gives them data,” he said. “They don’t really know who’s watching the game when it’s on NBC.”

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