NBC Golf announces analyst shakeup at PNC Championship

kevin kisner swings golf club

NBC Golf announced Kevin Kisner will take over as lead analyst for two events to start the 2024 PGA Tour season.

Getty Images/Ken Murray

A new voice is stepping into the spotlight at NBC Golf.

Kevin Kisner’s?!

On Sunday at the PNC Championship, NBC play-by-play man Dan Hicks announced that Kisner will join the network’s broadcast booth for its first two marquee broadcasts of the 2024 PGA Tour season: the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the WM Phoenix Open. The hiring, touted for now as a tryout, marks a surprise addition for NBC, which announced last month that it was parting ways with lead analyst Paul Azinger after five years. NBC has been tied to both longtime analyst Paul McGinley and 2006 U.S. Open winner Geoff Ogilvy in recent days.

“I have always found Kevin to be very forthright, honest and fearless when sharing his thoughts and opinions about the game, whether it’s in a conversation on the driving range or during his pre- and post-round press conferences,” NBC Golf lead producer Tommy Roy said in a release on Sunday. “We think his style will translate well to the viewers at home and we’re excited to have him join the NBC Sports broadcast team at the Sentry and the WM Phoenix Open.”

Kisner, a beloved podcast guest and regularly one of the more entertaining quotes in golf, represents an intriguing choice at the top of the NBC Golf food chain for at least the first two events of ’23. An unapologetic voice and witty personality, Kisner will be a popular voice among both players and viewers while his playing future remains in question. The four-time Tour winner fell outside of the top 200 players in the FedEx Cup standings in 2023 and, as such, lost his invitation into the Tour’s “signature events” series. At 39 years old, he retains his PGA Tour card and could conceivably continue competing, though the NBC job could represent an opportunity to forge a post-playing career.

“I’m excited to have this opportunity with NBC Sports to watch the game of golf from the other side and comment on what I’m seeing on the course,” Kisner said in the same release.

It’s unclear if NBC plans to hire a lead analyst before the start of the 2024 season, though NBC sources have indicated the network does eventually intend to hire a full-time candidate. It’s also unclear if Kisner will be considered for the full-time role — which would mark a considerable leap for a player with no previous TV experience — or if the network is auditioning him for a position like the on-course reporter roles filled by former players-turned-broadcasters Smylie Kaufman and Colt Knost.

For now, the hiring gives NBC’s golf coverage a jolt at a crucial juncture for the network and its partners at the PGA Tour. The Tour remains mired in an ongoing battle with LIV Golf that threatens to upend the value of its media rights agreements and poach valuable TV ratings from NBC and CBS. While a new voice won’t do much to sway the allegiances of millions of viewers, Kisner could bring some much-needed juice to a broadcast that has struggled under the weight of a dry telecast and an overabundance of commercials in recent years.

The news comes weeks after the Associated Press first reported that NBC would not be renewing its contract with Azinger after five years in the lead chair. Azinger’s departure was noteworthy, particularly considering his predecessor Johnny Miller’s 29-year tenure in the lead chair, but it fell well short of surprising. The former U.S. Ryder Cup captain’s tenure as NBC lead analyst often fell under criticism for his overreliance on folksy, instinct-driven analysts — a tendency that often ran counter to easily accessible facts or information. In recent years, Azinger showed an increasing tendency to criticize “golf media” from the booth, a curious choice considering his own role as arguably golf’s most influential media voice.

“I have treasured working beside Dan Hicks and the other talented NBC broadcasters, as well as lead producer Tommy Roy and all those behind the scenes,” Azinger said in a statement at the time. “They are a remarkable team, and I will miss them tremendously. My thanks to them and the countless others who have supported me and helped me along the way during my work in television. I have faith in what the future holds for me, for NBC, and for the great game of golf.”

Kisner’s tryout also marks the latest in a stretch of moves for NBC’s golf coverage, which saw the departures of longtime voices Gary Koch and Roger Maltbie last year and welcomed the additions of Kaufman and Curt Byrum. NBC is approaching the middle of a nine-year media rights agreement with the PGA Tour that runs through the end of the decade. Under the agreement, NBC will pay the Tour close to $400 million annually for the rights to broadcast its events, in addition to other agreements with the USGA and R&A for the rights to the U.S. Open and Open Championship.

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