The PGA Tour is in the process of negotiating a new broadcast rights agreement that would begin in the 2021-2022 PGA Tour season, after deals with Golf Channel, NBC and CBS expire. The Tour is hoping to have to an agreement in place well before then, potentially as soon as the end of 2019.
That means the formal bidding process is about to begin, and a number of potential new partners are weighing options to make their offer the most attractive to land the PGA Tour’s rights. Among the potential bidders is WarnerMedia, which owns TNT, TBS, the Bleacher Report brand and the B/R Live online service, among many other properties. According to Sports Business Journal, WarnerMedia is considering offering to flip one of their existing cable channels to a golf-themed network as part of the proposal to obtain PGA Tour umbrella broadcast rights.
SBJ’s John Ourand reports the likely flip would be either changing Headline News (HLN) or truTV (the channel you need to find each March for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament) to a golf-only network. The channels reach some 85 million homes each, which is larger than the current reach of Comcast-owned Golf Channel, which reaches 70 million homes.
The idea of flipping a channel is reportedly not assured to be in the final proposal, but it’s an option on the table.
hadn't seen cable coverage estimates (how many homes each network is in) from Nielsen since August. Here's the April 2019 v August 2018 for the cable sports nets I saw: pic.twitter.com/EAGGwLxK8o
— SportsTVRatings (@SportsTVRatings) April 1, 2019
Of course, there are other potential bidders in the mix, including the incumbents rights holders, Amazon, ESPN and Fox.
The PGA Tour has made no secret its interest in owning a linear TV network. The options include creating their own channel, potentially using their partnership with Discovery and their joint Golf TV project to go on TV in the United States. Comcast and the Tour have also discussed the Tour taking a majority ownership stake in the network as part of a rights agreement.