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NBCU: Golf, NBC On-Air Teams Are Viewer-Friendly Merger

NBC and Golf Channel analysts and commentators got together for their first joint conference call with reporters Tuesday as the broadcaster and its new cable net sibling prepared for their first joint, co-branded coverage for the newly-merged Comcast/NBCU, which NBC says will be a viewer-friendly merger.

The WGC-Accenture Match Play championship this week will be the first joint effort under the new Golf Channel On NBC brand (akin to the ESPN on ABC sports branding).

The respective on-air teams will repeat the exercise on air this Friday (8:30 p.m.) for a special/panel session, State of the Game, moderated by NBC on-air Golf host Dan Hicks and airing on the Golf Channel.

NBC Commentator Dan Hicks said the ability for the two teams to "mix and interchange" will be to the viewers' advantage. "I think by having this kind of dynamic, the viewer at home "is really the beneficiary of this merger."

Hicks said he was not exactly sure how the two teams would be melded, though there was the suggestion each could do cameos on the other's air. Brandel Chamblee and Sir Nick Faldo are on Golf Channel, while Hicks, Robert Maltbieand Johnny Miller are in the tower and on the course for NBC.

Chamblee said that one thing Golf Channel will be able to do is provide some of the stories behind the golfers they will be watching on the weekend. Golf Channel has the first two days of the event, NBC the final two.

"There are so many great stories that pop up in golf that you really don't have the time to expound on them in live coverage to the extent that you want to."

He said he expects that branding to drive viewers to the Golf Channel to get the in-depth details on players they don't know a whole lot about. That could be particularly the case with the WGC event, since it features a number of international players that aren't as widely known in the states and is match play, so it will be two players going head to head--starting with 64--for the chance to move on, or a sort of "February Madness."

The analysts suggested Tiger might not yet be ready to break back into the winners' circle, though it would be better for ratings and the game if he did. In response to a question from B&C/Multi, Faldo said he thought Tiger's game was "good enough to get to Sunday, but not good enough to finish it off at the moment."