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New PGA Tour chief outlines plans to widen reach

Golf’s PGA Tour will seek to secure partial ownership of a network as part of its next set of broadcast rights agreements, according to the organisation’s new commissioner Jay Monahan.

Monahan (pictured) has been promoted to become the fourth commissioner of the Tour after Tim Finchem in November confirmed he would retire at the end of 2016. Previously the Tour’s deputy commissioner and chief operating officer, Monahan took office on January 1 and outlined his future plans in an interview with the Wall Street Journal newspaper.

The PGA Tour currently has rights deals in place through to the end of 2021 with the CBS and NBC networks, along with pay-television broadcaster Golf Channel. However, the Tour can opt out of the CBS and NBC deals in 2018, and Monahan has not ruled out the possibility that it will do so.

The Tour has also explored starting its own cable network, but Monahan said this was not a “core goal”. However, he stated that it would make sense for the Tour to gain partial ownership of a network as part of its next set of contracts, rather than simply selling the rights for cash. “That would be a great result,” he said.

Monahan said he envisions the Tour producing more digital content aimed at casual fans, tailored in some instances for foreign markets. He is also keen for the presentation of the sport to reach out to more casual viewers.

Referring to the Tour’s current broadcast partners, Monahan said: “We’ve done an excellent job together of serving the avid, core golf fan.” But he said a priority going forward will be “finding ways to make the game and make our Tour relevant to people that haven’t played the game before, who don’t understand the nuances and the intricacies.”

The Tour is also seeking to reshape the golf calendar so that it doesn’t find itself in direct competition with American football league the NFL. This would involve moving the Players Championship from May to March, moving the PGA Championship from August to May and ending the FedEx Cup playoffs on Labor Day weekend instead of late September.

“That’s certainly something that we would like to see happen,” Monahan said, while conceding it is unlikely to happen in 2018. “Having big events every month, culminating in the FedEx Cup playoffs in August prior to the NFL season, that would be a very powerful schedule.”