PGA Tour targets ‘multi-event’ Barstool Sports/KFT broadcast model
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You’d be forgiven if you missed PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan’s surprising announcement about the future of the Tour’s broadcast rights on Wednesday.
The news came buried at the bottom of an explosive memo to players, obtained by GOLF.com, that marked the first words from the commissioner since he took an undisclosed medical leave on June 13. But if you looked closely enough, the broadcast news was right there, nuzzled behind paragraphs detailing the latest developments on the framework agreement with the Saudi Public Investment Fund, the state of Monahan’s health and the appointment of a new “special advisor” for players.
“And finally, while this isn’t a Policy Board-specific topic, I thought you would be interested in an exciting development related to this week’s Korn Ferry Tour event in Chicago,” the memo read. “All four rounds of the NV5 Invitational will be streamed live, subscription-free, on Barstool.tv.”
The big development, per Monahan? Not only would Barstool Sports be broadcasting this week’s Korn Ferry Tour event, the NV5 Invitational; the Tour and Barstool would also hope to come out of this week’s broadcast with a blueprint for future Barstool broadcasts.
“We hope to come out of this test with a multi-event model that will provide fans with more opportunities to see live competition coverage of the Korn Ferry Tour in 2024 and beyond,” Monahan wrote. “Please tune in for a bit this week and let us know your thoughts.”
It is not a surprise to hear there’s mutual interest from the two parties in extending their coverage of the Korn Ferry Tour, which is owned and operated by the PGA Tour. The Tour only receives sparing Korn Ferry Tour coverage from its national broadcast partners and the Golf Channel, meaning the opportunities for KFT players and sponsors to earn national attention are few. Barstool, meanwhile, has a rabid audience of sports fans, and has been focusing increasing amounts of its time and money on live sports streaming in recent years, scooping up the rights to the Arizona Bowl among other live sports properties. In striking some sort of live coverage agreement, the two sides could each find something they’re lacking.
While a bigger agreement certainly makes sense from a theoretical perspective, it remains to be seen how a long-term agreement between the two parties would look in a business sense. One imagines the PGA Tour aspires to collect a rights fee from Barstool for its broadcast coverage, but that would likely leave Barstool needing to sell significant advertising inventory to front the cost of that rights fee — or charging a subscription fee for KFT broadcast viewers.
There is, of course, time to figure that out. But it’s surprising to hear Monahan express so much optimism about the long-term prospects of the format before its viability has ever been properly tested.
This week’s Barstool/KFT broadcast, which will be held just north of Chicago, has been in the works at PGA Tour HQ for the better part of the 2023 season. The broadcast will feature a host of names from Barstool’s “Fore Play” podcast in addition to other personalities from the brand, and will air for three hours per day. It will be available, for free, for viewers on Barstool.tv.