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Golf Channel Comes of Age

Golf Channel on Jan. 17 will celebrate an anniversary that only it could—its 18th. And like after that final hole in golf, the network is taking something of a victory lap, having recently notched its second consecutive mostwatched year ever.

The network will celebrate the milestone on-air with a cake on early show Morning Drive. But the show’s real reward will come next month, when on Feb. 4 the weekday Drive will expand to seven days a week with added cast members and a new set. Golf made the move after airings of the two-year-old morning show on select weekends tripled the network’s ratings.

“On Saturday and Sunday mornings we weren’t really giving them a reason to turn us on. So now having a show seven days a week, they’ll be appointment viewing for our viewer,” says Golf Channel president Mike McCarley. Drive will also expand to cover more of the lifestyle aspects of golf, such as clothing, equipment and travel.

The first weekend of February will also see Golf Channel debut its spotlight coverage with NBC, where the broadcast network will have the traditional tournament coverage during seven PGA Tour events with Golf Channel focusing on specific signature holes. The networks will crosspromote each other’s coverage to amass a larger audience.

Golf Channel’s increased investment in quality programming— made possible by the resources of the Comcast acquisition—is all in the name of getting its viewers (the most affluent in television) to watch even more hours of its programming. Cross-promotional opportunities with NBC also recently helped Golf Channel secure rights to the World Long Drive Championships, an ESPN property for 17 years, and the NCAA collegiate national championships starting in 2014.