They don’t need pro golfers to keep the celebrity “Match” going over at Turner Sports.
In the first edition of the golf event to take place under the corporate aegis of the newly-merged Warner Bros. Discovery, four legendary NFL quarterbacks will take to the links on June 1 in a two-on-two competition that is, once again, sponsored by Capital One and broadcast on the cable network TNT. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, who competed against each other last year, will team up and square off against Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen in a 12-hole challenge at the Wynn Las Vegas.
Originally launched in 2018 as a pay-per-view event, “The Match” represents a bid by Turner, which has historically kept one of the smaller sports-rights portfolios among U.S. media companies, to expand without having to rely on traditional sports leagues. Rights fees for TV sports have grown beyond exorbitant, and media giants like Fox and NBCUniversal have placed new scrutiny on the return they get from sports investments. Such calculations led NBCU to bow out of bidding for a new round of NHL rights, leading the hockey league to split its games among ESPN and Turner, and prompted Fox to get out of “Thursday Night Football” a season early, ceding its oversight to Amazon. ESPN narrowed down its latest baseball rights, giving rise to new streaming deals for parcels of games now being shown via Apple and Peacock.
“What we are thinking of is a pop culture event that makes golf much more fast paced and is looking to younger viewers,” Will Funk, executive vice president of sports partnerships and branded content at Turner Sports, told Variety in a 2020 interview. “This is a world-class golf competition meets ‘Dancing With the Stars.’”
This “Match” will be Turner’s sixth. Partners in the venture include Excel Sports Management as the tournament organizer, along with 199 Productions, Brady’s content and production company.
As has been the case in the recent past, coverage will feature players wearing open microphones throughout the competition, which will give them the ability to communicate directly with their competitors and the broadcast commentators.
Past participants have included Phil Mickelson, Charles Barkley, Stephen Curry and Peyton Manning.