ESPN Picks Up Media Rights to Tiger and Rory Primetime Golf League

Walt Disney Co. has acquired exclusive US media rights to TGL, the Monday night golf tournament backed by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. And while technology is the nerve center of the new company, the rights deal has been structured so that linear TV will be TGL’s primary method of distribution.

Under the terms of the agreement, all TGL games will air on ESPN or ESPN2, while also being simulcast on Disney’s direct-to-consumer service, ESPN+. These two linear networks reach 71.3 million U.S. television households, making them among the most distributed sports channels in the traditional cable package. Now in its fifth year, ESPN+ has 25.2 million subscribers. The inaugural TGL game will begin in primetime on Tuesday, January 9 on ESPN/ESPN+, with the second event scheduled to air with the same configuration seven days later. Both shows will benefit from in-house advertising, as ESPN’s coverage of TGL’s first kickoff will air the night after the network’s presentation of the College Football Playoff national championship game, in as the January 16 game will take place after ABC’s ESPN/NFL Wild Card Showcase.

After the major events in January end, TGL will broadcast on Monday night as usual. A full breakdown of the TGL 2024 matches will be announced at a later date.

Although financial information was not disclosed, a TGL representative called the partnership with Disney a multi-year agreement, noting that Disney pays a monetary fee in exchange for distribution rights. wave of games. In other words, this is not a time-saving or revenue-sharing arrangement.

It’s the latest move from TGL parent company TMRW Sports, which announced a long-term partnership with SoFi on Tuesday. Creative Artists Agency’s investment bank, Evolution Media Capital, advised TMRW Sports on the domestic rights deal and is playing a similar role as the startup seeks to secure international distribution. In keeping with TGL’s mission of putting fans at the center of the action, ESPN broadcasts will feature microphone-equipped bumpers, multiple data overlays and various interactive elements. In what could be seen as the most consumer-friendly development yet, all TGL matches will be played within a quick two hours, far short of the standard 4.5 hours of TV golf.

Rosalyn Durant, ESPN’s executive vice president of programming and acquisitions, said in announcing the ‘deal. “It’s an exciting setting to showcase the game of golf and we can’t wait to introduce it to fans.”

Since Woods and McIlroy announced the TGL idea in August 2022, the company has received support from Fenway Sports Group’s Tom Werner, Mets owner Steve Cohen and Arthur Blank’s AMB Sports and Entertainment. Earlier this summer, Serena Williams, her husband, Alexis Ohanian, and sister Venus Williams purchased the Los Angeles Golf Club, one of TGL’s six founding teams. Link killers Tony Romo (+0.3 handicap) and Steph Curry (+1.3) are also investors.

In the TGL format, each team consists of three players, who compete on a virtual track in front of a crowd of real-life fans. The 11-week campaign will run until March 25, before giving way to a playoff format that will air over consecutive weeks in April.

Among the pros joining Woods and McIlroy on the simulated tour are 2023 Masters champ Jon Rahm and 2017/2022 PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas.

Because the PGA Tour is an investor in TGL, players are free to participate in both leagues.

Per internal projections, each of the six TGL teams are expected to generate $12.4 million in revenue by 2026, with sponsorship contributing the greatest chunk ($5.5 million) of that windfall. Those extrapolations, which were laid out in a 56-page investor deck reviewed by Sportico, also include estimates for ticketing, licensing and events. That said, the document does not offer guidance as to what a U.S. media deal might contribute to the TGL revenue stack.

Golf aficionados and curiosity seekers alike can get a first look at what TGL has cooking on Saturday, Dec. 30, when ABC will air a special introduction to the league, its six teams and some of the bleeding-edge tech that will power the new venture. The preview will air on one side of the Music City Bowl, which is set to kick off on ABC at 2 p.m. ET.

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