August 8, 2008; Bloomfield Township, MI, USA; Paul Azinger follows through on his tee shot on the 14th hole during the second round of the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, NBC Sports announced that Paul Azinger’s time as its lead golf analyst has come to an end, with the 2008 Ryder Cup captain’s contract with the company not being renewed.

Now we know why.

According to Sports Illustrated‘s Alex Miceli, Azinger’s departure from NBC comes as the result of his unwillingness to take a pay cut on his next contract. While both sides had reportedly agreed on a schedule for the 2024 season and other terms for a new one-year contract, Azinger was offered financial terms that were less than his current deal. Azinger reportedly submitted a counter offer, at which point NBC opted not to renew his deal.

“With the golf and media landscapes now in a more challenging environment, Azinger and NBC will part ways as their current contract ends,” Azinger’s longtime agent, Rich Braund, said in a statement.

As a result, Azinger’s last event with NBC was the Ryder Cup in October. Curt Byrum will serve as NBC’s lead analyst at next week’s Tiger Woods-hosted Hero World Challenge, which will double as the 15-time major winner’s return to competitive golf.

News that Azinger’s departure was a matter of money raises obvious questions about the future of  Comcast-owned NBC’s golf coverage. As Miceli noted, the Comcast-owned Golf Channel recently let go of 15-year veteran producer Brandt Packer and a coordinating and field producer, while the company also opted to not send a production staff to the Ryder Cup in Italy, handling all production from its headquarters in Stamford, Conn., instead.

Per Miceli, Comcast’s cost-cutting measures are expected to continue in 2024.

“Everything they’ve done is to make the telecast less expensive,” a source familiar with the operations told Sports Illustrated. “They’re not out to make it better for the viewer. There are more commercials, they’re cutting speed cameras, cutting drones, they don’t have a blimp or an airplane for overhead shots.”

At the same time that Comcast is making cuts, CBS has received praise for the innovation on its golf coverage, which has included live mics, shot projections and even Jon Rahm. Following the departure of Azinger, who had been its lead analyst since 2018, it will be interesting to see where NBC goes from here, with Byrum, Justin Leonard and Brad Faxon standing out as potential fits if the company is going to promote from within.

[Sports Illustrated]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.