CBS will retain rights to air one of the most-watched events in professional golf under an 11-year deal that will bring ESPN into the mix as a partner and end an association with AT&T’s Turner Sports.
CBS, ESPN and ESPN’s new streaming service, ESPN+, will combine to deliver more than 175 cumulative hours of live coverage of the PGA Championship, which is moving to May in 2019. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
The new agreement is expected to start in 2020. CBS Sports will get to show an additional hour of the event on Saturday and Sunday, while ESPN plans to use its ESPN+ service to cover all 72 holes. “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 for golf fans,” Turner Sports said in a statement. “We wish them all the best in their future pursuits.”
ESPN last aired the PGA in 1990. CBS Sports, which first broadcast the event between 1958 and 1964, has been the home of the PGA Championship since 1991.
The move of the event to May made it even more attractive for CBS, said Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, in an interview, as it is likely to generate better ratings and more interest from advertisers. “It falls into the category of a signature event for us,” he said. “It’s a key, marquee property for us.”
The agreement highlights the growing importance of rights-sharing deals among TV networks, which continue to grapple with exorbitant prices for sports rights in an era when digital technology is affecting the economics of the business. CBS has since 2011, for example, shared rights for the NCAA men’s basketball “March Madness” tournament with Turner Sports.
“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,” said PGA Chief Executive Officer Seth Waugh, in a statement. “We are also thrilled to partner with ESPN and connect with sports fans through the reach of the ESPN networks. The PGA is a major that not only typically delivers the strongest field in golf, but is 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 the state-of-the-art technology through a broadcast team that shares our mission to grow the sport of golf.”
CBS will continue to broadcast the third and final rounds on Saturday and Sunday, increasing its coverage by one hour each day. Under the terms of the new deal, CBS also gets expanded highlight and digital rights, including distribution of its coverage across CBSSports.com, CBS All Access and all mobile applications. Additionally, CBS will offer on-site ancillary programming on CBS Sports Network as well as on its digital and social platforms during championship week.
ESPN and ESPN+ will feature live action across all four days of the tournament, as well as pre-tournament and other ancillary coverage. Exclusive live coverage of the first and second rounds will appear across ESPN and ESPN+. For the third and final rounds, ESPN and ESPN+ will have multiple hours of live coverage throughout the morning, leading into the CBS telecast later in the day.