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Discovery lands PGA Tour international streaming and TV rights

Fort Worth Invivtational
Justin Rose watches his tee shot as he plays in the Fort Worth Invitational PGA tournament on May 26.
(Bob Booth / TNS)

Discovery Inc. has snared the international TV and streaming rights for the PGA Tour through 2030, the company announced Monday.

The Silver Spring, Md., media company will pay the PGA $2 billion for the rights to air golf tournaments over 12 years starting in 2019. As part of the deal, Discovery will develop a direct-to-consumer video service that will provide PGA programming on demand to viewers outside the United States.

Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav said his company has been hunting for sports content that can appeal to a global audience since its 2015 acquisition of Eurosport, the pan-European service that has the rights to the Olympic Games through 2024.

Discovery’s pursuit of global sports rights is part of the company’s strategy to tap into the growing audience for over-the-top TV streaming services. Like other media conglomerates, Discovery has experienced slower growth in the revenue received from cable and satellite providers as consumers have turned away from pay-TV subscriptions for streaming video options such as Netflix.

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In April, Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN launched a subscription service that offers live events not shown on its cable channels as a way to recapture sports fans who have cut the pay-TV cord.

Half of the top players on the PGA Tour come from outside the United States. “There is no sport that’s more global than the PGA Tour,” Zaslav said in a conference call with reporters.

The rights will include 2,000 hours of live content over 43 weeks a year from 150 PGA tournaments, including the Players Championship, the FedExCup Playoffs and the Presidents Cup. The number of PGA events staged outside the United States has doubled over the last five years, according to PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan.

Discovery will carry the events on its own channels around the world and negotiate deals to sub-license them to other broadcasters in countries where it does not have a presence. Its rights in some territories will begin later in the term of the contract.

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The direct-to-consumer product, which does not yet have a name, is to include short-form video created around PGA events for fans who want more in-depth coverage.

Discovery, which operates such popular cable channels as TLC, Animal Planet, Food Network and Investigation Discovery, is not a player in the U.S. sports TV market. The PGA Tour airs domestically on CBS, NBC and the Golf Channel through 2021.

Discovery said Alex Kaplan, previously executive vice president of Eurosport Digital, will oversee Discovery’s PGA partnership.

stephen.battaglio@latimes.com

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio


UPDATES:

2:10 p.m.: This article was updated with additional information.

This article was originally published at 8:55 a.m.

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