Fox will air eight USGA championships on its networks in 2018, and seven of them will go commercial-free thanks to an expansion of the organization’s partnership with Rolex.
Each of the aired championships, save for the US Open, which is the USGA’s profit driver for its entire operational year, will get the treatment. That means the US Women’s Open, US Senior Open, US Amateur, US Senior Women’s Open, and down the line, will show continuous action while on Fox or Fox Sports 1. Fox will brand the entire run of USGA events as USGA Championship Season on Fox Presented by Rolex.
This doesn’t mean there won’t be breaks in the action or any kind of commercial presence on the airwaves. Rather, there won’t be 30-second commercial spots and breaks as we’d typically see during a sporting event. Like you might see at a Masters or other limited-interruption telecasts, sponsors and corporate partners will be featured with stories and other branding outside traditional ads, including great moments in championship history.
While the US Open will have ads because it has the largest audience and, again, drives the most money for the USGA of all of its championships, Rolex has signed on to present the final hour of the US Open without commercial interruption.
This is all part of Rolex’s newly signed 10-year extension of its relationship with the USGA, and it could well expand and evolve in the coming years. Other corporate partners could sign on for similar arrangements to put their branding with on-air vignettes or features, like Toptracer or TrackMan shot trails.
The sponsorship will create a challenge for Fox’s production, trying to fill commercial time with some kind of action and analysis while balancing out the need for crews — both on-air and behind the scenes — to get in breaks.