What happens when a fan-favorite podcast goes big-time?
It lands a TV show.
As part of next month’s broadcast coverage of the 2023 U.S. Open, NBC has hired No Laying Up‘s Chris Solomon to host an “all-new streaming program,” sources told the Hot Mic. The agreement will see Solomon contribute to expanded digital coverage from Los Angeles Country Club on Peacock, the same sources indicated, in a program that Solomon himself helped to conceptualize. A spokesman for NBC Sports declined comment on the addition, but a release distributed earlier this month previewing the network’s USGA Championship coverage makes mention of “new U.S. Open coverage exclusive to Peacock” featuring “unique commentary and analysis.”
Shortly after the news broke, Solomon confirmed his involvement with the teased show on Twitter.
“Got a very cool concept cooked up for some alternative coverage of the U.S. Open with NBC,” he said. “More info to come, but we’re pumped for the opportunity to be a part of some of the change we’d like to see!”
In many ways, Solomon, a podcast host and frequent video contributor for No Laying Up, is a natural fit to fill an expanded role on a national broadcast. The NLU brand has become one of the most recognizable voices in golf, and the company’s recent expansion has only added to its growth in the space, including the addition of longtime ESPN senior writer Kevin Van Valkenburg. While most members of the NLU team have a public presence, Solomon represents the company’s most forward-facing voice, leading interviews with guests and running the brand’s official Twitter handle.
Still, considering Solomon’s frequent direct criticisms of the network (and golf television coverage as a whole), NBC’s interest qualifies as something of a surprise. At least year’s U.S. Open, social media complaints about the tournament’s commercial load led in part by Solomon elicited an apology from USGA CEO Mike Whan and the last-second adjustment of Sunday’s final-round commercial window.
In recent years, broadcast networks have experimented with a series of new alternate-style telecasts to run alongside more traditional linear coverage, the “Manningcast” format being the most popular of the bunch. The aim, sports TV execs say, is to capitalize on a group of casual sports watchers who enjoy commentary more than Xs and Os. Among networks with major sports properties, the “Manningcast” style of show is viewed as “squeezing more juice from the orange” — allowing networks to generate larger audiences and programming hours at low production and distribution costs. At last year’s PGA Championship, ESPN experimented with its own “Manningcast”-style broadcast (one that it will aim to utilize again, with No Laying Up‘s help, in 2023), while NBC and CBS have tried their hand at similar shoulder programming.
Peacock’s streaming program with NLU represents NBC’s most aggressive foray into that space thus far, but comes at a time in which the network is doubling-down on its efforts with Peacock as both a sports and entertainment destination. The streaming service has moved increasingly towards providing its 21 million subscribers with exclusive coverage around major sports events, recently adding Peacock-only bonus hours at NBC’s major championship coverage.
NBC would not comment on whether the concept with No Laying Up will also be used as part of its Open Championship coverage from Royal Liverpool in July. The network will host U.S. Open coverage from Los Angeles Country Club from June 12-18.