The PGA Tour broadened its international reach Monday in a $2 billion agreement with Discovery Inc., to deliver golf content directly to consumers in 220 markets outside the United States over the next 12 years.
Nine months after the PGA Tour chose not to opt out early of its U.S. network deals, it formed an alliance to turn over its content outside of the U.S. to Discovery, a company that already is reaching audiences around the world through its Eurosport network and other channels.
The tour had been exploring its own network.
"Discovery is the largest international media company," Commissioner Jay Monahan said from the tour's New York office. "They have content experience, distribution experience, direct-to-consumer experience that, candidly, nobody else has. So they can do for the PGA Tour, and they can do for the game of golf, what no one else can do internationally.
"This puts us in a place that we could never get to on our own," he said. "And it allows us to accomplish some things that we think a decade from now will be exceptional."
Discovery has networks such as Animal Planet and Discovery, and through its acquisition of Scripps Networks Interactive added the Food Network, HGTV and Travel Channel. Discovery's Eurosport reaches 700 million people and holds Olympic rights through 2024.
"There is no sport that's more global than the PGA Tour," said David Zaslav, the president and CEO of Discovery. "There's no sport that's more local than the PGA Tour, and there's no sport that has a demographic that's voraciously hungry to consume content."
The PGA Tour has 85 players from 25 countries who are full members, including two from China this year. Zaslav said the alliance allows Discovery to build a global platform, "an ecosystem around golf that will nourish and excite every golf fan everywhere in the world."
The requirement includes a PGA Tour-branded streaming service to reach fans around the world on every mobile screen and device. That includes some 2,000 hours of content from more than 40 PGA Tour events, along with events from five other tours it runs. The PGA Tour has development circuits in China, Canada and Latin America.
Zaslav said content created in the U.S. can be tailored to meet needs in Asia or other markets.
"Local matters," he said. "What we found with sport throughout Europe is local is everything. So the fact that 50 percent of the top players on the tour are form outside the U.S. is huge."
Sergio Garcia is one example.
Facts about the former Masters champion don't reveal much. He checks in at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds. He turned pro in 1999. But what's going on in his game and fun activities away from golf are rarely mentioned unless Garcia is near the lead. For so many players, there is a lack of personal information.
That's where Discovery comes in.
"We want our players from those home countries to have a greater voice and to be able to tell their story," Monahan said, "and for them to be able to share to their fans in their home country how they're progressing through the year, and what they're eating, how they're training, the ups, the downs, the life cycle of a season, which has incredible highs and lows, but really to be able to follow that player more intimately than we currently can today."
The PGA Tour and Discovery are going to work together to see what works best for golf. They're looking at live coverage and beyond. The platform they plan to develop could ultimately be somewhere fans shop, talk to each other, consume news content or watch instructional videos.
"We'll be looking at a very simple algorithm, which is we want to create something that every person wakes up in the morning, hits it, says, 'I love this thing,' and then asks five or 10 friends, 'Do you have this things?'" Zaslav said. "If you love golf, you've got to have it."
A name for the platform has not been determined.
The PGA Tour already plays tournaments in China, Malaysia, South Korea, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. It could expand that, though Monahan said that was not an immediate concern and might not work with the schedule.
For now, the focus is to grow what the PGA Tour already has in place with the help of Discovery.
The PGA Tour has U.S. network deals with NBC Sports and CBS Sports, and with Golf Channel. Those deals expire in 2021. The four majors have separate TV contracts, though Monahan says he already has heard from leaders of those organization intrigued by how this could change the video landscape in golf.
This Discovery deal is meant to take the PGA Tour's global coverage to the next level, thus allowing fans anywhere to follow their favorite players.
"You've taken the core fan that follows that player, and you've made them even more rabid," Monahan said. "For those who aren't yet fans, they're starting to be introduced to that player or that group of players, and they're supporting them as national players. They're getting more engaged in not only our content, but then they're also understanding what makes this game the greatest game on the planet."