Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy take aim at the future of sports entertainment with ‘TMRW Sports’
In truth, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have been “business partners” since the very beginning. Now, they’re finally putting a label on it.
On Tuesday, Woods and McIlroy announced the formation of “TMRW Sports,” a company concentrating on “technology-focused ventures that feature progressive approaches to sports, media and entertainment.” The two men are forming the company alongside legendary NBC Sports producer Dick Ebersol and executive Mike McCarley, who will oversee the execution of the firm’s vision.
It is not yet known which areas of sports, media and entertainment it will focus on, though it stands to reason that golf will find itself in the centerfold. The announcement comes just days after Golfweek reported that Woods and McIlroy were considering starting an arena-centered golf skills competition to run alongside the PGA Tour.
TMRW Sports marks the first formal business arrangement between the two players, but both men have embarked upon similar ventures for some time now. In the time since McIlroy’s ascension into the golf consciousness in the late 2000s, Tiger and Rory have shared an equipment manufacturer (Nike, and then TaylorMade) and an apparel sponsor (Nike again), in addition to their roles as two of the PGA Tour’s most influential figures. All of which is to say nothing of the pair’s business ventures away from the course, which include investments in golf entertainment companies. McIlroy’s “Symphony Ventures” investment portfolio includes a stake in Drive Shack’s “Puttery,” while Woods’ TGR Investments owns a stake in Popstroke.
“I am excited to work with TMRW Sports in bringing people more access to sports,” Woods said in a release announcing TMRW’s creation. “So many athletes, entertainers, and people I meet from all walks of life share our passion for sports, but they also share our desire to build a better future for the next generation of sports fans. Together, we can harness technology to bring fresh approaches to the sports we love.”
In Ebersol and McCarley, the two golfers have aligned themselves with two of sports media’s biggest names — a pair of NBCUniversal darlings who rose to high-ranking executive positions at the company. Ebersol, the former chairman of NBC Sports, is perhaps best known for his role in founding NBC’s Sunday Night Football and Saturday Night Live; two franchises that have served as pillars of the network’s brand for the last several decades. As the show’s executive producer, Ebersol oversaw SNF‘s rise to become the longest-running No. 1 show in American television history. McCarley, meanwhile, rose up the marketing ranks at NBC to eventually serve as president of Golf Channel and later, of the whole of NBC’s golf portfolio.
The growth of non-traditional sports broadcasts has exploded in recent years as content creators grow deeper into “shoulder programming,” or programming that runs in addition to the traditional, network broadcast. Some independent creators and larger sports media companies like Barstool Sports have seen success bringing new voices to live content on Twitch, while the networks have established larger amounts of real estate for non-traditional formats. ESPN’s “Manningcast” coverage of Monday Night Football during the 2021 season won them an Emmy and has since been replicated across the network’s other properties, while CBS’s Nickelodeon simulcasts during the last two NFL Wild Card weekends have driven huge new audiences to the sport.
TMRW could look to replicate the success seen by the “Slimecasts” — or it could look to develop a new sports property entirely its own, a la Big3 basketball. That league, which was founded under similar circumstances (by Ice Cube alongside legendary producer Jeff Kwatinetz), has seen fast success as an offseason alternative to the NBA and is currently in the midst of its fifth season.
Whatever the case, in TMRW, the two golfers now find themselves attached at the hip. Not that they ever weren’t.
“For the last few years off the course, I’ve been focused on helping to lead golf into its digital future,” McIlroy said. “Now, by joining forces with Tiger, Mike, and other TMRW Sports partners, we can shape the way that media and technology improve the sports experience. In a world where technology provides us with so many choices for using our time, we want to make sports more accessible for as many people as possible.”