On top of the original July 29 story by John Ourand and John Lombardo detailing the possible ways a new PGA Tour television/digital deal may play out, a second and more pointed column from Ourand appeared on August 5th. I’m presuming the quotes from this were in the original interview, though the tone of this column is decidedly more incumbent-friendly than the original piece.
Ourand predicts that it will take “a significant bid to convince the tour to turn away from” the Golf Channel, NBC and parent company Comcast.
But it’s the quote from the PGA Tour exec in charge of shaping the new deal that will interest (or concern) fans and viewers.
“It’s not simple,” Rick Anderson, the PGA Tour’s executive vice president of global media, told SBJ golf writer John Lombardo and me recently. “Comcast has built an entire multibillion-dollar linear channel with our programming. They are phenomenal in terms of their production of golf, and they have a strength of position in the game. Changing that and walking away from that and leaving them will not be easy. It would be the hardest path. It would be a lot easier to talk about doing a renewal instead of going to the market … It’s not an easy thing to consider leaving Comcast, but it’s also not an insurmountable one.”
Phenomenal but not insurmountably so.
As for the viewer appetite to stream golf, Anderson believes the audience wants more digital streaming, even if means watching a guy take over two minutes to hit a six foot putt and paying for the privilege.
“The digital platform is as big an opportunity as the linear channel,” Anderson said. “We know that our opportunity extends beyond the current business model of cable and a linear channel. We can build a real digital platform that has content that people will pay for and in a different way than any other sport can do.”
Anderson said the tour’s available package has more than enough content, particularly Thursday through Sunday with the PGA Tour, LPGA, PGA Tour Champions and Korn Ferry tours.
“The landscape that I see with those big deals is definitely a linear channel, but then an extremely robust digital platform where you really could almost literally go and watch golf on a 24-7 basis,” Anderson said.
I continue to have a hard time seeing more than friends and family paying significant chunks of change for a more robust PGA Tour Live on top of all other streaming or cable subscriptions.
Maybe the folks doing this negotiation will be inspired by Disney’s brilliant, trend-bucking bundle announced last week and pricing of its new combined Disney/ESPN+/Hulu and give golf fans the chance to buy a one-stop place for all of this content at a fair price.