PGA Championship to be Aired on CBS, ESPN Starting in 2020
PGA of America announced on Wednesday that it has agreed to a new 11-year television contract to keep the PGA Championship on CBS Sports. Beginning in 2020, the tournament’s weekday rounds will be seen on ESPN, which is a new partner for the event. It was announced that CBS and ESPN will combine to air about 175 hours of coverage of the event across cable, broadcast and digital streaming platforms.
Financial terms of the agreement have not yet been disclosed.
The 2020 PGA Championship is set to be held at Harding Park in San Francisco, California. CBS Sports is set to add an additional hour of coverage for both the Saturday and Sunday rounds. ESPN plans to air coverage of all 72 holes via its streaming platform, ESPN+.
ESPN’s executive vice president, Burke Magnus, said, “This agreement is going to be great for golf fans and is significant for ESPN and ESPN+. The PGA will bolster ESPN’s diverse collection of big events and deliver another world class competition to the ESPN+ platform and its growing audience. We look forward to working with the PGA of America to help increase the sport’s popularity.”
Starting with the 2019 event at Bethpage Black in New York state, the PGA Championship will move from August to May. Instead of being the final major of the golf season, the PGA Championship will now be the second major to take place after the Masters in April. This move will now give ESPN and CBS exclusive rights to the first 2 majors of the season. CBS holds exclusive rights to the Masters.
The PGA Championship debuted on cable television on ESPN way back in 1982 and 1983. ESPN also carried the vent from 1985 until 1990.
PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said of the deal, “For nearly a half century, CBS Sports has been a vital member of the PGA of America extended family while delivering our major championship to golf fans across the country. We are also thrilled to partner with ESPN and connect with sports fans through the reach of the ESPN networks.”
Waugh added, “The PGA is a major synonymous with historic moments that resonate with golf fans everywhere. As we move this iconic championship to May, we are extremely excited that CBS and ESPN will present the highest quality product with state-of-the-art technology through a broadcast team that shares our mission to grow the sport of golf.”
ESPN+ also has plans to broadcast practice rounds over the course of the final 3 days leading up to the beginning of the tournament on Thursday. It will additionally air press conferences and carry a continuous live feed from the course’s driving range.
This new deal will end a 29-year relationship between the PGA Championship and Turner Sports. Turner has carried the event on TNT and TBS exclusively since 1991. Waugh said that he called Turner Sports president David Levy over the weekend in order to inform him of the news.
The new pact with ESPN and CBS will run through the 2030 season. Executives told Sports Business Daily that the fee the networks paid for the event was “healthy.” Waugh added that the PGA “like[s] the idea of having the same team do the first 2 majors of the year.”
The new deal is the conclusion of more than 2 years of negotiations that included a variety of different media companies. NBC Sports Group was reportedly in on the talks, and NBC reportedly gained an edge in negotiations after teh hiring of Pete Bevacqua as president. Bevacqua had been the CEO of PGA of America before moving to NBC last month.
This is the first major deal for CBS since Les Moonves resigned as the head of the network in September. He was replaced by Joe Ianniello. Of the discussions, CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said, “This was the first deal done with the new management here at CBS. Joe was very supportive of the deal from the beginning. The overall strategy for CBS has not changed. It is still centered on the value of sports.”
Ianniello added, “Premium content such as the PGA represents the past, present and future of CBS. There is nothing like live sports programming to attract a mass audience and drive our business.”
Turner Sports released a statement that said, “We’ve had a successful partnership with the PGA of America for many years, including continuous innovations throughout our portfolio that have greatly enhanced the experience of golf fans. We wish them all the best in their future pursuits.”
CBS has covered the PGA since 1991.
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