Shortly after hiring PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua as president of NBC Sports Group last week, NBC has now picked up U.S. PGA Tour streaming rights. They overcame several bidders to sign a three-year deal for PGA Tour Live, which has been around since 2015 and had previously been run by Disney-owned BAMTech (with some of its coverage available on subscription service ESPN+ this year). The package, which will now be part of the NBC Sports Gold subscription offerings, includes exclusive Thursday and Friday morning coverage from 28 annual PGA Tour events, beginning with January 2019’s CareerBuilder Challenge and running through the FedEx Cup playoffs each August. And in addition to an estimated 360-plus hours of live exclusive coverage in 2019, it will also have hundreds of hours of “featured holes” coverage that supplements other TV broadcasts. Here’s more on the deal from Todd Spangler at Variety:
“Moving PGA Tour Live over to NBC Sports Gold represents the next evolution of our product,” said Rick Anderson, chief media officer of the PGA Tour.
…For the PGA, teaming with NBC Sports — which will power the PGA Tour Live Service through its Playmaker Media division — offered several advantages. First, NBC will be able to promote the over-the-top package on its Golf Channel and NBC telecasts and digital platforms. “We’re excited to be able to bring this product in with the Golf Channel and really promote it to the core golf fan,” said Anderson.
Adding PGA Tour Live to the existing mix of golf on NBC and Golf Channel will give NBC Sports a “more holistic approach to the sport,” said Mike McCarley, president of golf for NBC Sports Group. “The more exposure you can give a sport across more platforms the better.”
There absolutely is some logic to partnering this with the already-considerable tonnage of golf coverage on NBC, NBCSN and Golf Channel, and that fits with the general NBC approach of owning both TV and streaming rights to sports properties like the English Premier League, the Tour de France, various rugby tournaments and various track and field events. They also have plans to expand the service to connected-TV devices like Roku, Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire, a jump from the current desktop/iOS/Apple TV availability. And there may be a change in pricing plans too; the service is currently available for $39.99 a year or $5.99 a month, but most of NBC Sports Gold’s current sports are sold by the season, and Spangler writes that NBC is “mulling” making a similar move with this.
This is an interesting move, as it both buttresses NBC’s streaming offerings and reduces ESPN’s. Of course, it makes sense for NBC to go after this package and further their reputation as a golf destination, and having a well-known golf leader like Bevacqua on board probably helped their case further. And the PGA Tour Live content on ESPN+ wasn’t necessarily a critical property for that service, but perhaps more of a nice-to-have thing. But it’s notable to see NBC step up and take a streaming property that had previously been with BAMTech/ESPN, and that shows their own ambitions in the streaming realm. We’ll see how this move works out for them.
Correction; this piece initially had Bevacqua as the PGA Tour CEO. He was the PGA of America CEO.