LPGA & the Golf Channel, a 10 Year Partnership
The most highly anticipated season opener of the LPGA, with Michelle Wie poised to finally gain the long awaited win, but the "big news" of this event became the 10 year contract finalized with the Golf Channel. LPGA commissioner, Carolyn Bivens, announced the Golf Channel partnership, stating that the exclusive cable deal made the LPGA the first stand alone women's sport organization to receive a rights-agreement for domestic coverage.
Starting next season, the Golf Channel will have complete coverage of most domestic events, including one major championship. They will also show international feeds of LPGA global events. In addition, the Golf Channel will provide early-round broadcasts of tournaments that feature weekend coverage on other networks. With an early look, the deal won praise but it also triggers an obvious concern as there is a long-standing deal with the PGA already in place.
Though securing a TV deal is vital for sponsor support, there are some who are not ready to proclaim that this deal is a revenue windfall. In the past, the LPGA bought air time from a broadcasting entity and the tour and its events sold advertising to recover expenses. Bivens was adamant in procuring this partnership with the hope that consistency and overall promotion will help to secure a committed viewing public.
Oddly enough, SBS, the long-time sponsor, had to explain at this same event how their relationship with the LPGA came to an abrupt halt. Unfortunately Wie did not have the finish that she had hoped for either finishing again in second place. It's a new season for everybody!!