Discovery’s decision to end GOLFTV represented many things, but “a surprise” was not one of them.
The troubled golf-specific streaming platform seemed destined for the guillotine for months prior to Friday’s announcement alerting subscribers that coverage would be halted effective December 12.
According to a PGA Tour spokesman, the Tour’s 12-year, $2 billion broadcast agreement with the streaming giant is unaffected by the decision. The Tour’s broadcast rights, the spokesman said, would be transitioned into a larger streaming platform offered by Discovery. The agreement’s financials will remain unchanged.
By some accounts, it was a testament to the streaming giant’s outstanding agreement with the PGA Tour that GOLFTV lasted this long. It was just seven months ago that Warner Bros. Discovery executives brought a similarly grim message to the executive board of CNN+, closing the streaming service after only a few weeks in existence and an investment of more than $1 billion. During the course of their meeting, Warner Bros. Discovery leaders reportedly pointed to the brand’s struggles in attracting subscribers to its other streaming platforms, specifically GOLFTV, as proof that highly-specified channels weren’t the best way to draw subscriptions. JB Perrette, Discovery’s head of streaming, was one of the executives at the meeting.
“We have failed almost at every turn launching these products,” he said, according to the New York Times.
Eventually, the same reasoning was used to shutter GOLFTV too, striking down the service some three years into a 12-year, $2 billion pact between the streaming company and the PGA Tour.
The good news for international golf fans is that the PGA Tour’s streaming rights won’t be any harder to find under the new structure. For many customers, PGA Tour coverage will now be shown on Discovery+. In countries in which Discovery+ is not available, Discovery will offer its PGA Tour programming as part of a different local platform.
For the PGA Tour, the announcement likely comes as welcome news. Just last year, the Tour moved away from its own highly specified streaming platform, PGA Tour Live, in favor of a multi-billion-dollar agreement with ESPN+. Tour executives have since publicly praised the deal for its role in broadening the PGA Tour audience. In shifting the deal to Discovery+ (or some similarly large Discovery streaming entity), Warner Bros. Discovery is following that shift.
For Discovery, though, the decision marks the latest casualty in a $3.5 billion slash-and-burn by Discovery chief executive David Zaslav. The hope, Zaslav has said, is to relieve some of the $50 billion debt burden incurred when Warner Bros. and Discovery merged this spring, but the short-term reality of that goal has been a controversial series of job cuts, project cuts and, with GOLFTV, platform cuts. It was not immediately clear if Golf Digest, also owned by Discovery, was also impacted by the cuts.