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ESPN on par for Masters

Network outbids USA for two rounds of golf tourney

ESPN has outbid USA for exclusive U.S. rights to carry the first two rounds of the Masters Golf Tournament next year.

ESPN declined to reveal the license fee or the length of the contract. CBS is ponying up $3 million to carry the final rounds of the Masters in April. Unlike most sports-rights deals, the Masters insists on keeping the contract term to one-year.

USA has covered the first two rounds each year in the U.S. for the last 26 years, but ESPN has televised the Masters internationally since 1993.

“With the worldwide reach of ESPN, and their demonstrated leadership in new media, we think ESPN is uniquely positioned to showcase the Masters and golf to new audiences,” said Billy Payne, chairman of the Masters Tournament and Augusta National Golf Club.

ESPN, ESPN HD and ESPN Deportes will carry the Masters for each of the first two days from 4 to 7 p.m. ESPN and ESPN HD will carry a repeat of each day tournament in primetime from 8 to 11. Mike Tirico will host the event.