After losing the U.S. Open to Fox, NBC is back in the major business by landing the rights to the British Open, beginning in 2017. The deals lasts 12 years.
The 2017 Open Championship, as it is called over there, will mark the first time the Golf Channel will have coverage of a men’s major. It will be a huge milestone for the network.
Also, adding the British Open likely will keep Johnny Miller around for a while. Miller turns 70 in 2017. However, while the U.S. Open defined his career with his epic round at Oakmont in 1973, his other major victory occurred in the 1976 British Open. Miller isn’t going to retire without calling a few British Opens first.
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times reported the deal last night.
NBC and Golf Channel will replace ESPN, which is paying a reported $25 million annually under an eight-year contract. While NBC did not divulge its fees, Mark Lazarus, head of the NBC Sports Group, said the deal called for a “fairly large increase.”
“This is an affirmation of the way the golf industry looks at us and Golf Channel as an important part of the golf media world,” Lazarus said. “We’re in the golf business. It’s not a hobby for us. Golf is a pillar of our strategy at NBC and Golf Channel.”
The official release from NBC:
NBC Sports Group and The R&A announced today a long-term media partnership in the United States beginning with The Open from Royal Birkdale in 2017 and spanning 12 years. The announcement was made today by Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A, and Mark Lazarus, Chairman of the NBC Sports Group.
“The R&A is synonymous with the traditions and history of golf, and The Open is golf’s original championship. NBC Sports is proud to present The Open Championship, and to work with The R&A on their initiatives to grow the game around the globe,” said Mark Lazarus, Chairman of NBC Sports Group. “This partnership will allow NBC Sports, Golf Channel and NBC Universo to serve the legions of sports fans in the U.S. with complete coverage that reflects the prestige of The R&A’s championships.”
“We are delighted to announce that from 2017, The Open will be broadcast by NBC Sports Group. They have unparalleled experience in golf and have demonstrated a genuine desire to showcase and promote The Open and The R&A’s elite championships through their extensive range of channels and digital platforms,” said Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A. “The United States is home to millions of fans of The Open and we know that through NBC Sports Group, they will enjoy world-class coverage of the Championship.”
The new partnership agreement includes coverage across all media of The Open, The Senior Open Championship, and The Amateur Championship, as well as the RICOH Women’s British Open, in partnership with the Ladies’ Golf Union. The agreement also includes coverage of the Walker Cup and Curtis Cup, in years when these international amateur team events are hosted by The R&A and Ladies’ Golf Union.
NBC Sports Group, The R&A and Ladies Golf Union partnership:
Returns The Open and RICOH Women’s British Open to U.S. broadcast television for the first time in eight years
Represents Golf Channel’s first live coverage of a men’s major championship with The Open
Adds the RICOH Women’s British Open as the fourth women’s major championship on Golf Channel, and joins this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship as the second to receive broadcast coverage on NBC
Includes NBC Universo’s live Spanish-language golf coverage of The Open and the RICOH Women’s British Open
“As these events’ new home in the U.S., NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open and Curtis Cup will further raise the profile of these world-class events,” said Lazarus. “Adding broadcast coverage of the Women’s British Open will contribute to the momentum that the LPGA Tour and Golf Channel have generated in the United States, as the women’s game continues to grow stronger.”
“This is fantastic news for the Women’s British Open and the Curtis Cup and for women’s golf generally,” said Trish Wilson, Chairman of the Ladies’ Golf Union. “To have the full weight and breadth of the NBC Sports Group behind these two international events will be of tremendous benefit to their future growth.”
NBC Sports Group’s promotional effort will feature The Open as one of the final marquee events within NBC Sports’ widely recognized Championship Season each spring and summer and will strengthen NBC Sports Group’s leadership position as sports fans’ morning destination in the U.S. In addition, the partnership will collaborate on showcasing golf’s oldest and most international championships, including Golf Channel’s coverage of The Open Qualifying Series events, documentaries from the Emmy-nominated Golf Channel Films unit and a U.S. promotional tour of the Claret Jug, one of sport’s most iconic trophies. Golf Channel and The R&A also will work together on efforts to showcase The R&A’s global youth initiatives, utilizing Golf Channel’s presence in more than 200 million households, 80 countries and 11 languages around the world.