ESPN closing in on broadcast rights agreement with up-and-coming golf league TGL

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ESPN is reportedly finalizing a deal to acquire broadcast rights for the emerging golf league TGL. This partnership would provide TGL, led by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, with a strong media partner as they prepare to launch their inaugural season next year. Although the specific terms of the deal, including its value and duration, have not yet been finalized, negotiations are expected to conclude in the coming weeks. While it remains uncertain how many TGL matches ESPN will broadcast, this collaboration is a significant development for both ESPN and the business of golf.

The potential agreement between ESPN and TGL comes at an important juncture for both parties. ESPN, a crucial component of the Walt Disney empire, is exploring various options for its media networks as CEO Bob Iger considers the future. Iger has hinted that some of ESPN’s linear television channels may be up for sale, and the company is actively pursuing commercial partnerships. Furthermore, as more US consumers opt for online streaming over cable subscriptions, media conglomerates and sports entities are reassessing their rights agreements. Another recent example of this trend is Warner Brothers Discovery’s plan to simulcast live sports properties, including NBA games, on its Max streaming platform.

In the golf world, there has been widespread controversy surrounding the proposed merger of the US-based PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf breakaway tour. Rory McIlroy has been a vocal critic of LIV, and Tiger Woods was recently appointed to the board of the PGA Tour amid ongoing discussions about the potential merger. Against this backdrop, both Woods and McIlroy announced their plans to launch TGL in August 2022. TGL is a new format of golf competition featuring six teams that will compete once a week in primetime Monday-night broadcasts. With support from prominent investors such as Fenway Sports Group and individuals like Steve Cohen, Arthur Blank, Serena Williams, and Alexis Ohanian, who have each purchased a team, TGL has already gained significant traction. The league is majority-owned by Woods and McIlroy through their investment vehicle, TMRW Sports, and is poised to reshape the golf landscape.

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