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NBC Extends Ryder Cup Telecast Rights
By Torleif Sorenson on 10/11/13

NBC Sports may have lost the USGA television contract, but the PGA of America still loves the Peacock Network. The two groups announced on Thursday that NBC Sports will continue as the U.S. television outlet for the semi-annual Ryder Cup matches and the Senior PGA Championship through 2030.

Frankly, this is a no-brainer. NBC has televised the Ryder Cup since 1991 and they have one of the best television producers in all of sports in the person of Tommy Roy.

As golf writer Geoff Shackelford noted, PGA of America President Ted Bishop fired a not-so-subtle blast at the USGA for upstaging the PGA Championship with the timing of the announcement of the USGA's new television contract with Fox Sports:
"We had very productive conversations with Commissioner Finchem and certainly respected the Presidents Cup last week, and that's why we're doing this announcement this week. So thanks to all involved."
One unidentified participant in the love-fest conference call asked about 2019, when the PGA Championship television contract with CBS Sports expires. PGA of America CEO Peter Bevacqua politely dodged the question:
"We have a great relationship with CBS and Turner Sports. Our current agreement for the PGA Championship extends through 2019, so we have had no conversations and no thinking about what we would do leading up to that point or beyond, other than to say that we have been treated exceptionally well by our broadcast partners in regard to the PGA Championship."
While CBS has had a long association with the PGA Championship, it seems very unlikely that the contract with the TNT cable channel would be extended, given the complete (and obvious) content disconnect. If NBC Sports does not gain the entire television rights to the PGA Championship, look for them to at least aggressively pursue the early-round TV rights for Golf Channel.

NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus noted that ESPN sub-licenses Friday Ryder Cup coverage from NBC and said that they will honor those contractual obligations, but that it is "a story still to be told." We can safely assume that once NBC's sub-contract with ESPN is done after the 2014 matches, that's it. As it is, most of ESPN's short attention span toward golf is limited to the ESPN web site; golf is featured on SportsCenter almost as much as hockey — rarely, if ever.

(They're too busy obsessing over which college hot-shot will be picked by the Minnesota Timberchihuahuas in the 22nd round of the 2014 NBA Draft.)

Almost assuredly, NBC's Lazarus, executive producer Tommy Roy, and president of programming Jon Miller will bring the Friday Ryder Cup coverage to NBC, if not Golf Channel.

All told, this represents a smart move by the PGA of America; they keep the established sports production team, the cross-channel promotion, and guaranteed coverage on the only television channel dedicated to golf.

conference call transcript

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Image by Torleif Sorenson

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