None have managed to capture the same formula that makes the original work, though, which isn’t surprising for a product built specifically to the strengths of the stars. ESPN is trying again in a couple of weeks for the PGA Championship at Southern Hills, though, and this time there are a few things that could make it work.
For one, it’s going to be produced by Omaha Productions, the Manning-owned company behind the original version. For another, the PGA Championship version will feature the ESPN debut of Joe Buck.
That’s all according to this report from Andrew Marchand in the New York Post.
Buck will lead a “Manningcast” for the PGA Championship later this month, The Post has learned. He will be joined by ESPN golf analyst Michael Collins, who is known as the “ESPN Caddie.”
ESPN didn’t comment. Buck offered this reaction:
— Joe Buck (@Buck) May 5, 2022
But Marchand had more details as well, noting that this version will actually serve as the first “main” hour of coverage, while the traditional broadcast will start on ESPN+:
The Buck-cast will be on all four days of the PGA Championship, beginning Thursday, May 19. The first and second round Buck-cast shows will begin on ESPN, while the traditional live golf coverage starts on ESPN+.
The Buck-cast will be the main presentation when linear coverage begins. The show plans to book “A list” guests.
After an hour, Buck and Collins will move to ESPN2 when the main golf coverage transfers to ESPN.
For the final rounds on Saturday and Sunday, Buck-cast will have an hour on ESPN to start the day, while traditional coverage is again on ESPN+. After the first hour, the Buck-cast will move to ESPN+ with the main crew moving back to ESPN.
The PGA Championship is the only golf major over which ESPN gets to exercise a lot of production control; they have the first two days of coverage at the Masters, of course, but that’s CBS-driven. Giving Buck an hour of main coverage also makes a lot of sense, as does getting him back on golf. While the Fox golf experiment had a rocky start, by the end of the sport’s run Buck had become one of the best in the business.
He should thrive in this format, too. Collins is a positive presence and has been covering golf for forever now without taking things too seriously. Buck, in his cameo on the Manningcast, was absolutely fantastic in that setting. Honestly having this as a shoulder option for PGA Championship coverage feels like one of the better extensions of the format. Those are long days, and especially on Thursday and Friday, when the outcome of the tournament isn’t in doubt, having a different option to spend a few hours watching could have appeal for both casual and diehard fans.
Or maybe it will be a mess! Who knows! But that would be interesting in its own right and it’s good that ESPN is trying it regardless.