ESPN is out of the Ryder Cup business.
According to a report by Geoff Shackelford, NBC Sports Group has acquired back the rights to Day 1 of the Ryder Cup that it has sub-licensed to ESPN through 2014. This means NBC Sports Group will air all three days of the '14 matches at Gleneagles leading into a new contract with the PGA of America.
When NBC Sports Group and the PGA of America announced the deal to air the Ryder Cup on their networks through 2030 back in October, the timing seemed a little odd. The gut reaction, since it came during the USGA's Mid-Amateur, was that it was a shot back at the governing body for announcing their deal with Fox Sports on the eve of the PGA Championship.
However, even more curious was that the deal was shared with ESPN still on the hook to air the first day of the Ryder Cup next year at Gleneagles. Reading between the lines, it seemed NBC Sports Group would likely bargain with the Worldwide Leader for those Day 1 rights to make a seamless transition into the new contract.
The bargaining chip for ESPN also helps NBC Sports Group. ESPN will air more highlights of the Barclays Premier League on their shows in exchange for easier access to the rights from NBC Sports Group, which airs all BPL matches on their networks or digital channels.
Like NBC Sports Group, ESPN will end its relationship with the USGA at the conclusion of 2014, but will maintain rights for R&A championships, as well the Ricoh Women's British Open, through 2017 and the rights to air the first two days of the Masters on a rolling, 1-year contract.