DIS­COVER DIS­COV­ERY!!

New Zealand Golf Magazine - - CONTENTS -

The way we view golf on our screens is chang­ing.

Jan­uary 1, 2019 is shap­ing as a very sig­nif­i­cant date for golf. That day you can start put­ting with the flag in, and drop your ball from knee height. It’s also the day a re­mark­able $US2 bil­lion deal for broad­cast and on-line rights to the PGA TOUR OUT­SIDE the USA kicks in, and prize­money is sure to sky­rocket as a re­sult.

That day you can start put­ting with the flag in, and drop your ball from knee height. It's also the day a re­mark­able $US2 bil­lion deal for broad­cast and on-line rights to the PGA TOUR OUT­SIDE the USA kicks in, and prize­money is sure to sky­rocket as a re­sult. The deal is with Dis­cov­ery Inc. Best known as the owner of the Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel, the Mary­land based com­pany also op­er­ates An­i­mal Planet, The Learn­ing Chan­nel (TLC) and the Oprah Win­frey Network. It also owns Eurosport, now rights holder for the Olympic Games through­out most of Europe.

Dis­cov­ery is also awash with cash. Rev­enue for the first three months this year was a cool $US2.31 bil­lion.

The money it's spend­ing on golf over the next dozen years is ac­tu­ally pretty ‘small beer' com­pared to its re­cent pur­chase. Dis­cov­ery has just bought the Scripps com­pany (Travel Chan­nel, Food Network, HGTV and DIY Network). That was a $US14.6 bil­lion deal which closed on March 6 this year and was paid 70 per­cent in cash.

Many of those chan­nel brands are fa­mil­iar to Sky sub­scribers in NZ. That begs the ob­vi­ous ques­tion – will golf on TV here be shift­ing from the Sky Sports chan­nels to the life­style chan­nels?

Not for a while at least, ac­cord­ing to Sky's Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­ager

Mel Robin­son.

“Sky has the PGA TOUR rights for New Zealand to the end of 2019 with an op­tion through to De­cem­ber 2021 and we look for­ward to dis­cus­sions with the new joint ven­ture at the ap­pro­pri­ate time.

“We have long stand­ing and pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships with both Dis­cov­ery and the PGA TOUR. We look for­ward to work­ing with them as they ex­e­cute their new in­ter­na­tional dis­tri­bu­tion and broad­cast part­ner strat­egy.”

The PGA TOUR is also coy about what the fu­ture might hold for golf fans in New Zealand.

The Tour's Head of Dis­tri­bu­tion for the new Dis­cov­ery - PGA TOUR joint ven­ture, Thierry Pas­cal, con­firms we'll be watch­ing golf on Sky till the end of 2021 although he's in­di­cat­ing a new and im­proved OTT (over the top) stream­ing prod­uct, which is cur­rently called PGA TOUR LIVE, could be avail­able here be­fore then - for those who want to pay.

Plus, it's the OTT prod­uct which Dis­cov­ery is bank­ing on as the lynch­pin of its deal with the TOUR.

Dis­cov­ery CEO David Za­zlav told a press con­fer­ence an­nounc­ing the deal that “the num­ber one mis­sion here is a global direct-to-con­sumer plat­form that changes the way peo­ple con­sume con­tent.”

Which is code for get your­self a Smart TV and high speed in­ter­net at home, plus some mo­bile de­vices with un­lim­ited data plans and you'll be able to watch golf when and where you want.

It's the same at­ti­tude Spark is tak­ing into the Rugby World Cup next year. Get the tech­nol­ogy, buy the app, sit back and en­joy the ac­tion when­ever and wher­ever you want.

PGA TOUR Com­mis­sioner Jay Mon­a­han is con­scious that golf, and his or­gan­i­sa­tion, need to move with the times. “The world of me­dia is fast chang­ing” he says. “This is about ev­ery fan hav­ing ac­cess on ev­ery de­vice.”

We have, of course, heard these sen­ti­ments in New Zealand be­fore.

Re­mem­ber Coli­seum Sports Me­dia? It came charg­ing onto the New Zealand me­dia scene in 2014, scooped the golf rights off Sky and made it an in­ter­net only sport in this coun­try for all of 2015. →

But de­spite var­i­ous deals be­ing of­fered through Spark's Light­box and dis­counts for golf club mem­bers, the prod­uct just didn't get any trac­tion. It was too dif­fi­cult and in­con­ve­nient for most golf fans (i.e. the older age group and not tech savvy) so the ven­ture failed.

Golf was back on Sky in 2016 and has been ever since.

So, the big ques­tion is this. Will im­proved in­ter­net ser­vices, the much higher preva­lence of Smart TVs and the pass­ing of time make golf a more palatable prod­uct to be shown just via the in­ter­net by 2022?

Back in 2015 we heard that the New Zealand sit­u­a­tion was an ex­per­i­ment by the PGA TOUR in a small mar­ket to test the waters about golf on-line. That ex­per­i­ment failed. This time the PGA TOUR is join­ing with a me­dia gi­ant to keep tra­di­tional (and older) con­sumers con­tent for many years via lin­ear TV chan­nels, while de­vel­op­ing an on­line prod­uct that will be far more than just live tour­na­ment golf. Think in­struc­tion, doc­u­men­taries, his­tory and panel shows – all on de­mand. The plan is to make it so com­pre­hen­sive and so good that golf fans will feel they're miss­ing out un­less they're sub­scrib­ing.

It will take time.

But Za­zlav, the Dis­cov­ery CEO, says this new OTT prod­uct, which will have a name by the end of this year, will be­come the “Net­flix of golf.”

Aus­tralia will be among the first coun­tries to have it come on line on Jan­uary 1st next year. Canada, Italy and Ja­pan are also among the first tranche. But South Korea (2020) and China (2021) – won't be see­ing it till their cur­rent broad­cast deals ex­pire.

The same ap­plies in the home coun­try of the Tour it­self.

NBC and CBS have con­tracts for US au­di­ences that run through till the end of 2021. While those net­works and their own­ers would have the fi­nan­cial clout to match Dis­cov­ery, the PGA TOUR may think it's just more con­ve­nient to be deal­ing with one broad­cast and on-line or­gan­i­sa­tion which can dis­trib­ute its prod­uct ev­ery­where on the planet.

What can be as­sured is that golf's elite play­ers are set to be re­warded bet­ter than ever. The early years of this deal will be worth about a mil­lion dol­lars a week to the PGA TOUR, then 2 mil­lion a week from 2021, and even more through to 2030.

A high pro­por­tion of that will be go­ing straight to prize­money.

The days of your reg­u­lar PGA TOUR event be­ing worth $US10 mil­lion are not far away.

PGA TOUR Com­mis­sioner Jay Mon­a­han is con­scious that golf, and his or­gan­i­sa­tion, need to move with the times. “The world of me­dia is fast chang­ing” he says. “This is about ev­ery fan hav­ing ac­cess on ev­ery de­vice.”

PGA TOUR Com­mis­sioner Jay Mon­a­han.

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