Discovery Announces $2B International PGA Tour Deal

Discovery Communications, which jumped into the sports business buy buying rights to the Olympics in Europe, is set to announce a $2 billion deal to air PGA Golf internationally.

The 12-year agreement runs from 2019 to 2030 and includes TV and online rights to the PGA Tour outside the United States. It includes 2000 hours of content per year, including the six Tours operating under the PGA Tour umbrella and nearly 150 tournaments annually, including The Players Championship, the FedExCup Playoffs, and the Presidents Cup. 

Discovery and the PGA Tour plan to create a dedicated over-the-top streaming services based on Discovery’s direct to consumer Eurosport Player. Discovery plans to invest more than $2 billion over the course of the deal, including licensing rights and building the OTT platform.

The business will be led by Discovery’s Alex Kaplan, president and general manager of the new Discovery and PGA TOUR venture. Kaplan previously was executive VP, commercial for Eurosport Digital where he helped grow the Eurosport D2C business to over 1 million subscribers. Prior to joining Discovery, Kaplan was senior VP, global media distribution, for the NBA, responsible for global direct-to-consumer strategy and business operations.

Discovery will broadcast the PGA Tour on its portfolio of pay-TV and free-to-air channels, digital and short-form platforms.

Since 2007, the PGA Tour has negotiated all of its non-U.S. broadcast rights deals on its own. As part of the deal with Discovery, they will seek to capitalize on the two organizations’ expertise in managing international multi-platform rights and launching the new digital service. They expect to come up with a strategy for finding broadcast partners for some of golf’s most prestigious tournaments.

“Today is a fantastic day for golf fans around the world as Discovery proudly partners with the PGA Tour, to create something that has never been done before, said Discovery CEO David Zaslav.

"The long-term partnership between the PGA Tour and Discovery will create the new global Home of Golf, including delivering over 2000 hours of live content year-round and this prestigious sport’s greatest moments, stories and athletes,” Zaslav said. “Following our successful first Olympic Games in PyeongChang, Discovery will contribute its strong global distribution and promotional infrastructure, in-market relationships, global sports expertise with direct-to-consumer platforms and brands to create a valuable new long-term Home of Golf offering in every market outside the US.”

Zaslav joined Discovery from NBCUniversal, which airs PGA events in the U.S. on its Golf Channel and NBC. CBS also has rights to some PGA events in the U.S.

The PGA has players from 25 countries including two from China, so its matches should have appeal internationally.

“This is an exciting next step for the PGA Tour, which presents a tremendous opportunity to accelerate and expand our media business outside the United States, better service our international broadcast partners, and drive fan growth with a deeply experienced strategic global partner,” said Jay Monahan, Commissioner of the PGA Tour

“This partnership aligns very well with the opening of PGA Tour offices in London, Tokyo and Beijing in recent years and will support our long-term objectives of growing the game of golf,” Monahan said. “It also will deliver more value to our sponsors as it presents a tremendous opportunity to engage new and diverse audiences around the world.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.