In a newly-competitive TV landscape, the PGA of America sides with a like-minded broadcast partner for the Ryder Cup
In virtually every way, it is a match made in heaven. Walk into any pro shop or grill room in America and the chances are good the TV is turned to Golf Channel. And just as likely, the person behind the cash register in that pro shop is a PGA of America member.
There cannot be two entities whose constituencies overlap as perfectly. Both Golf Channel and PGA of America members live and breathe the game of golf. If the 27,000 PGA of America professionals are the boots on the ground for the game, bringing golf to passionate players at both public and private facilities, Golf Channel gives that passion a voice.
And, in a new deal, that marriage is not just set through 2030, but it moves forward with a re-energized commitment to use Golf Channel, NBC and the entire Comcast family to not just televise the game, but to celebrate it, analyze it and, ultimately, grow it.
"Golf Channel is truly the daily broadcast voice of golf," PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua told GolfDigest.com in discussing the arrangement that keeps the Ryder Cup on NBC through 2030.
"We are really the people who connect the game to the people who play it," Bevacqua said of his organization of club and teaching professionals. "So this marriage of these two entities is really exciting," he said. "In every way, this will tap into the expertise of our members, which will help the every day player, and enhance the stature of PGA of America members."
And if location is the key to determining the value of real estate, timing is the lynchpin when it comes to selling sports content. While Bevacqua says talks with NBC began last December, he also admits they gained speed after NBC lost the U.S. Open to FOX in August.
Certainly the presence of a new bidder in the form of FOX -- which will make its debut televising golf in the United States in 2015 -- helped the finances, which Bevacqua would not discuss, as did the fact that both NBC and FOX have created all-sports networks to compete with ESPN.
But in Golf Channel, the PGA of America has a broadcast partner unlike any other in that it is the only station dedicated entirely to golf.
"It never got to that point," Bevacqua says when asked if there were other suitors for the Ryder Cup. "We had such a comfort level with NBC [which has had the Ryder Cup since 1991]. It made so much sense in terms of what we can do as partners to serve our members and grow the game. It just became a very easy decision."
The five most valuable properties in golf are the four men's major championships and the Ryder Cup. The PGA of America is the only organization that owns more than one.
Now NBC, which lost the U.S. Open to the $93 million a year bid by FOX, has locked up the Ryder Cup through 2030, when Tiger Woods will be 54 years old and perhaps a captain of the U.S. team.
While no one will attach a dollar figure to this deal, one insider said, "The money is there, and it is significant." In 2012, the Ryder Cup was televised to nearly 500 million households globally. One of the most compelling things about the Ryder Cup is that it has probably the greatest growth potential in that it has an identity very different from the 72-hole, stroke play of the four majors.