CBS, ESPN Ink Rights Deal for PGA Championship; Turner Sports Out After 29 Years

CBS Sports will serve as lead production entity for all the 72-hole coverage

The PGA of America, CBS, and ESPN have agreed to an 11-year rights agreement for the TV, digital, and OTT rights to the PGA Championship, beginning in 2020. The deal marks the end of the championship’s 29-year relationship with Turner Sports, which has carried the golf major on TBS and TNT since ’91. CBS Sports will retain rights to Rounds 3 and 4, ESPN will air the opening two rounds, and ESPN+ will live-stream Featured Hole and Featured Group coverage for all four rounds. CBS Sports will serve as the lead production entity for all the traditional 72-hole coverage for the entire tournament. 

Brooks Koepka won the 2018 PGA Championship. (Photo: Montana Pritchard/PGA of America)

The PGA moves to May beginning in 2019, becoming the second major championship on the golf calendar.

CBS, ESPN, and ESPN+ will combine to deliver more than 175 cumulative hours of live coverage across broadcast, cable, and digital platforms. The PGA of America will retain the rights to PGA.com and produce the web and mobile app experiences.

The move to May is expected heighten the PGA’s brand and its initiatives and further elevate the stature of the championship, because the PGA now falls when television viewership is higher and the vast majority of PGA Members are at the frontend of the golf season. The new schedule also enables CBS, ESPN, and the PGA of America to effectively promote important “grow-the-game” initiatives to a larger and more engaged audience, according to a joint announcement made by the three organizations.

“For nearly a half century, CBS Sports has been a vital member of the PGA of America extended family while delivering our major championship to golf fans across the country,” PGA CEO Seth Waugh said in the announcement. “We are also thrilled to partner with ESPN and connect with sports fans through the reach of the ESPN networks. The PGA is a major that not only typically delivers the strongest field in golf but is synonymous with historic moments that resonate with golf fans everywhere. As we move this iconic championship to May, we are extremely excited that CBS and ESPN will present the highest-quality product with state-of-the-art technology through a broadcast team that shares our mission to grow the sport of golf.”

CBS Retains Rounds 3 and 4, Adds One Hour Per Day
CBS Sports, which broadcast the event from 1958 to ’64 and has been the home of the PGA Championship since ’91, will continue to broadcast the third and final rounds on Saturday and Sunday, increasing coverage by one hour each day. Under the terms of the new deal, CBS also receives expanded highlight and digital rights, including distribution of its coverage across all CBS platforms, including CBSSports.com, CBS All Access, and all mobile applications. Additionally, CBS will offer onsite ancillary programming on CBS Sports Network as well as on its digital and social platforms during Championship Week.

“Premium content such as the PGA represents the past, present, and future of CBS,” said Joe Ianniello, president/acting CEO, CBS. “There is nothing like live sports programming to attract a mass audience and drive our business. We are very pleased to extend our longstanding relationship with the PGA of America and this signature event.”

“The PGA Championship has been a marquee event on CBS since 1991,” said CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus. “Retaining these rights was a top priority for us this year, and we are excited to have it continue as a cornerstone of our schedule for 11 more years. Together with ESPN, we look forward to greatly expanding the coverage of this great championship. The move to May will greatly benefit CBS, our viewers, and the golf marketplace.”

ESPN, ESPN+ To Offer Live Action All Four Days
The wide-ranging agreement includes live action on ESPN and ESPN+ across all four days of the tournament, as well as pre-tournament and other ancillary coverage. Exclusive live coverage of the first and second rounds will appear across ESPN and ESPN+. For the third and final rounds, ESPN and ESPN+ will have multiple hours of live coverage throughout the morning, leading into the CBS telecast later in the day.

ESPN+ also will air Featured Hole and Featured Group coverage for all four days of the tournament, including during the weekend afternoon windows. Before the first round, ESPN+ will air coverage from practice rounds, player news conferences, driving-range interviews, and more. Also, an extensive collection of in-progress and post-round highlights will be available on ESPN+, ESPN.com, the ESPN App, and other ESPN platforms, and ESPN signature SportsCenter will have a strong presence at the event all week. ESPN last televised the event in 1990.

“ESPN is proud to work with the PGA of America and CBS to provide fans with unprecedented coverage of this prestigious event,” said ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro. “The addition of ESPN+ provides us the opportunity to go even deeper in showcasing the drama and excitement of the PGA for years to come.”

Beyond the Live Window: Strategic Elements, Multiplatform Support
This new partnership between CBS Sports, ESPN, and the PGA of America also includes strategic elements and multiplatform support for key PGA initiatives to help showcase and celebrate the organization, its members, coaches, PGA Jr. League, and the golfers who compete in the championship each year, building a compelling future for this championship and growing the game of golf.

The PGA Jr. League celebrates young athletes, who are the future of this game, while they compete in the PGA Jr. League Championship every October. Beginning in 2020, the PGA Jr. League Championship presented by National Car Rental will be telecast on ESPN networks.

The 20 PGA Professionals from across the country who have earned the right to compete in the PGA will be showcased, with a focus on their stories and the impact they have on the growth of the game.

The visibility of the PGA Minority Collegiate Championship will be increased, highlighting the competition and telling the stories of the diverse athletes and teams.

PGA HOPE, the signature military program of PGA REACH, uses golf as a therapeutic tool to help veterans reconnect with civilian life. To highlight the program, the stories of the veterans impacted by PGA HOPE will be showcased leading into the championship.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with two great partners in CBS and ESPN for the next 11 years to continue to drive innovation in the production and coverage of major-championship golf television,” said PGA of America President Paul Levy. “I’m also extremely excited about what this partnership will do to continue to elevate the value of the nearly 29,000 PGA Professionals who are helping to move this sport forward every day.”

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