UPDATED: Discovery announced the acquisition of Golf Digest from Condé Nast, adding further momentum to the cable programmer’s big multiplatform swing into golf entertainment. It builds on Discovery’s 12-year international rights deal with PGA Tour and an exclusive content deal with golf pro Tiger Woods.
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Discovery paid $35 million for Golf Digest, per the New York Times, while the New York Post put the price tag at around $30 million after Discovery beat out other suitors including NBC Sports Group. (The Post originally reported that there was a “bidding war” for Golf Digest; NBC Sports said it never submitted a bid for the magazine.)
In 2001, Advance Publications, Condé Nast’s parent company, bought Golf Digest and other golf titles from the New York Times Co. in a deal reportedly worth around $400 million.
Discovery said it will weave Golf Digest’s business into the programmer’s GolfTV streaming-video division, which offers exclusive carriage of the PGA Tour, the European Tour, and the Ladies European Tour, as well as the Masters Tournament, in certain territories outside the U.S. The GolfTV group also encompasses Discovery’s exclusive partnerships with Tiger Woods and Francesco Molinari.
Discovery said it will retain Golf Digest’s editorial team, led by editor-in-chief Jerry Tarde, who also will become global head of strategy and content for Discovery Golf, expanding his purview to include GolfTV. Tarde reports to Alex Kaplan, president and GM of Discovery Golf.
However, Golf Digest’s ad sales team will be phased out. Discovery and the PGA Tour are expanding their $2 billion rights deal inked last year with a new content and sales relationship in the U.S., which will include managing Golf Digest’s advertising and marketing organizations. Discovery said the current Golf Digest sales teams will continue to be responsible for ad sales during a “transition period” until the Discovery/PGA Tour sales integration is complete.
Internationally, Discovery said it plans to boost Golf Digest’s presence outside the U.S. to grow its digital ad sales, which accounts for nearly 50% of Golf Digest revenue. Under Discovery’s ownership, Golf Digest will continue to publish a U.S. monthly print magazine and Discovery will assume the global licenses for editions in nearly 70 countries.
David Zaslav, Discovery’s president/CEO, said Golf Digest is “a natural strategic fit with Discovery’s goal to be the leading golf media platform in the world.”
Discovery plans to augment GolfTV with Golf Digest’s content, including news, instructional videos, rankings, and tentpole features like the “100 Greatest Course Rankings” and its annual “Hot List.”
In particular, Discovery said it will seek to “optimize” its exclusive global partnership with Tiger Woods across both Golf Digest and PGA Tour platforms. In a statement released Monday, Tiger Woods said: “This is an important step in enhancing and expanding the U.S. and global reach of Discovery and GolfTV. It gives me another platform to tell my story directly to fans and makes my partnership with Discovery even stronger.”
According to the companies, Golf Digest on a monthly basis reaches 4.8 million readers in print; an online audience of 4.8 million uniques visitors; and 2.2 million social followers. Golf Digest video content generates 60 million views monthly.
Condé Nast had been seeking to sell Golf Digest — along with Brides and W magazines — as the company looks to mount a digital-led turnaround that includes a broad slate of video content. The company in early April named Roger Lynch, formerly chief exec of Pandora and head of Sling TV, as its first global CEO.
On the Golf Digest negotiations, for Condé Nast, Greenhill & Co. served as financial adviser and Hughes Hubbard & Reed served as legal adviser. Proskauer Rose served as legal adviser to Discovery.