Tiger Woods may be this country’s most popular athlete, but his sport still has some catching up to do, at least in the area of television revenue.
The PGA Tour announced a new television deal Monday that, according to sources, will pay the tour $850 million over four years, beginning in 2003. That’s a 45% increase over the current four-year, $575-million deal.
However, the $850 million, or $212.5 million a year, pales in comparison to other TV sports deals.
The NFL is in the middle of an eight-year, $17.6-billion television deal, and baseball is getting $2.5 billion from Fox alone for six years. CBS recently agreed to pay an average of $545 million a year for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and other championship events over an 11-year period, beginning in 2004. And NASCAR gets $400 million a year from its television carriers.
The $850 million for PGA golf is below the $1 billion target, but considered respectable in a lagging economy.
The PGA deal does not include the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship.
One significant change under the new deal is that the Nissan Open will be switching from CBS to ABC in 2003. The tournament at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades has been on CBS almost every year since 1982.
There are other changes as well, but none as significant.
“Everybody pretty much kept their schedule intact,” CBS Sports President Sean McManus said. “I think it’s a fair financial deal for us and the tour.”
The PGA’s new contract is with ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN, USA and The Golf Channel. A Fox spokesman said there had been interest on both sides but there were too many scheduling conflicts.
ABC Sports President Howard Katz and NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer said they were delighted with the new deal.
NBC keeps the Players Championship, while ESPN gets back early-round coverage after a four-year hiatus.
Under the new setup, ABC will average 18 events each year, CBS 17 and NBC five.
On the cable side, the biggest mover was USA, which more than doubled its coverage by jumping from 15 tournaments this year to 33 a year over the length of the deal.
ESPN drops from 18 to 14 events but adds quality by gaining early-round coverage of the Players Championship and Memorial.
The Golf Channel, which is airing a dozen tournaments in 2001, won’t have any PGA Tour events but does get exclusive rights to the Buy.com Tour.
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How the PGA
Annual income from national TV rights holders:
NFL: $2.2 billion
NBA: $660 million
NCAA tournament: $545 million*
Baseball: $417 million
NASCAR: $400 million
PGA: $212.5 million
NHL: $120 million
*--Takes effect in 2004, and the deal with CBS also includes championships in other sports.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.