Global golf fans who had relied on GolfTV to bring them the PGA Tour in recent years had cause for concern when the brand was folded by Warner Bros. Discovery in late 2022. what does that mean For their consumption of the PGA Tour?
In short, the answer is… nothing. At least not for consumers. For WBD and its various media partners, that means something a little different.
The tour has notified these media partners of a reconfigured agreement with WBD this week, which will maintain the rights to the international tour with WBD in most European markets and some in Latin America. Other markets, for example, Asia, will see PGA Tour rights managed exclusively by the PGA Tour itself, eliminating any third parties in future agreements.
What’s left now is very much what it was before 2019. The PGA Tour has for years run single-handed rights deals around the world. WBD, then only Discovery, stepped in to be the exclusive international distributor. The original agreement with WBD was to create GolfTV’s “world-class direct-to-consumer golf platform,” the letter read. This included a port of all PGA Tour content, all the time.
GolfTV has signed contracts with Tiger wood and Francesco Molinari for showcasing exclusive content on the platform, along with how-to videos. GolfTV was $9.99 per month and the deal was advertised at a price 12 years long worth $2 billion. But times were different then. That was before the pandemic. It was a car accident before Woods. That was before Discovery and WarnerMedia merged into a conglomerate.
Going forward, the tour would regain management of some of its international rights, which had always included WBD as one of those third parties. But again, for the major markets in Europe and Latin America, that means no change at all. PGA Tour events will continue as they have for months (if not years) on Eurosport and Discovery+, the streaming platform that many international consumers already use to watch professional golf.
The merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery already paid dividends for some international viewers last month, as Seventh match – Always broadcast by WarnerMedia via TNT – Streamed via EuroSport and Discovery + in December. Playing alongside Rory McIlroy, Woods lost to Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. By comparison, Discovery+ is less than half the price of GolfTV ($4.99 per month with ads; $6.99 without).
“As consumer behavior has changed, so has Warner Bros. Discovery’s own business,” WBD’s statement said, focusing more on broad entertainment propositions rather than individual sports or “watch and do” products. In an evolving media landscape, we’ve found that including sports within a broader consumer offering provides greater value to subscribers and their wider families, as well as making sports available to a larger audience.”
Japan is the apt example of a market where this broadcast rights news matters the most. The country is the home of Hideki Matsuyama, the 2021 Masters champion, where GolfTV has been the primary streaming service for PGA Tour fans for the past few years. These rights are now owned by streaming service U-Next and broadcaster Japanext.
The PGA Tour kicks off 2023 this week at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.