PGA Tour adopts new global rights strategy with ‘pioneering’ Discovery deal

US golf organisation the PGA Tour has taken on a new strategy for its international rights by striking a “pioneering” strategic alliance with media company Discovery.

The 12-year deal announced today (Monday) will run from 2019 to 2030 and includes global multi-platform live rights, outside the US, to all PGA Tour media properties. This totals approximately 2,000 hours of content per year, including the six Tours operating under the PGA Tour umbrella and nearly 150 tournaments annually, including the Players Championship, FedExCup Playoffs and the Presidents Cup.  

In addition to live linear rights in 220 markets and territories, the alliance will include the creation of a dedicated, Tour-branded, OTT video streaming service that will seek to capitalise on Discovery’s direct-to-consumer product and platform expertise as home to the Eurosport Player.

Discovery said it expects to invest more than $2bn (€1.67bn) over the course of the alliance, including licensing of the Tour’s international media rights and building a global OTT platform available outside the US, with a gradual increase of annual investment during the term.

Discovery will broadcast the PGA Tour on its portfolio of pay-television and free-to-air channels, digital and short-form platforms, and will work with the Tour on how to capture all access to the action and its extensive non-live and library rights for all media platforms.

David Zaslav, president and chief executive of Discovery, said: “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.”

Since 2007, the Tour has negotiated all of its non-US broadcast rights deals on its own. Jay Monahan, commissioner of the PGA Tour, added: “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. 

“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. It also will deliver more value to our sponsors as it presents a tremendous opportunity to engage new and diverse audiences around the world.”

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 vice-president of commercial for Eurosport Digital where he helped grow the Eurosport D2C business to over one million subscribers. 

The full management team will be announced in due course and include the Tour’s Thierry Pascal as senior vice-president and head of distribution.