ESPN is reportedly in the final stages of securing a deal for broadcast rights with the newly formed golf league, TGL. The league, led by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, is set to launch next year, and having a media partner like ESPN would provide significant exposure. The details of the deal, including its value and duration, are yet to be finalized, but discussions are expected to conclude in the coming weeks. It remains unclear how many TGL matches will be broadcast on ESPN’s cable networks or streaming platforms.
This potential partnership comes at a critical time for both ESPN and the golf industry. ESPN’s parent company, Walt Disney, is considering options for its media networks, and some of its linear television channels may be up for sale. Additionally, Disney is exploring commercial collaborations for ESPN as it recognizes the shift towards streaming for live sports coverage. Meanwhile, as more consumers opt for online streaming over cable subscriptions, media conglomerates and sports entities are reevaluating their rights agreements. In line with this trend, Warner Brothers Discovery recently announced plans to simulcast NBA games and other live sports properties on its Max streaming platform.
The golf world has faced its own turbulence with the proposed merger between the US-based PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf breakaway tour. Rory McIlroy has been an outspoken critic of LIV, and Tiger Woods recently joined the board of the PGA Tour. Amidst this backdrop, Woods and McIlroy announced the launch of TGL in August 2022. The innovative format features six teams competing in primetime Monday-night broadcasts at a virtual simulator course in an arena environment. TGL has already attracted support from investors such as Fenway Sports Group, Steve Cohen, Arthur Blank, Serena Williams, and Alexis Ohanian. Furthermore, TGL has a partnership agreement with the PGA Tour and is primarily owned by Woods and McIlroy through their investment vehicle, TMRW Sports.