Discovery finalises European Tour swoop and sells on rights to Spain's Movistar
By Jonathan Rest
Discovery, the US media giant that owns Eurosport, has signed off its multi-year swoop for rights to golf's European Tour across the continent, excluding the UK and Germany, bolstering its landmark deal for the US PGA Tour rights.
The deal, which has been in the pipeline for the last three months, is expected to be formally announced by Discovery tomorrow, but the group has already sold on rights in Spain to Movistar Plus, the pay-television operator owned by Telefónica.
That three-year deal with Movistar Plus covers the PGA Tour and the European Tour from 2019 to 2021 in their entirety, as well as the next edition of the Ryder Cup in Wisconsin, USA in 2020 and the four annual World Golf Championships, and ensures the broadcaster maintains its position as the exclusive home of golf in Spain.
The tournaments will continue to be shown on Movistar Golf, the channel dedicated to the sport which also holds rights to the majors such as The Masters and the British Open.
It is the first agreement signed by Discovery related to the European Tour and its second for the PGA Tour, following a deal with Jupiter Golf Network, the specialist cable and satellite broadcaster in Japan early last month.
Discovery holds international rights to the PGA Tour in a $2-billion agreement that begins in 2019 that also includes the right to create an over-the-top offering, and it emerged in late September that it was close to landing European Tour rights across the continent, excluding the UK and Germany where pay-TV's Sky renewed lucrative deals.
Discovery’s move for European Tour rights was not unexpected in the wake of its PGA Tour coup. In June, Alex Kaplan, president and general manager of Discovery Golf, said: “The PGA Tour is a great place to start with golf content. But on a case-by-case basis, where it makes sense, we will absolutely talk to other golf properties out there.”Movistar Plus has been the long-term rights-holder of both Tours in Spain, which continues to produce some of the sport's top players, including Jon Rahm (pictured), who won three titles (two PGA and one European) in 2018.
In late October, Discovery unveiled GolfTV as its OTT offering, and said it was in the process of selling on PGA Tour rights to broadcasters around the world, stressing that it was working on "a robust distribution and broadcast partner strategy for the portfolio, optimising reach across free-to-air, pay-TV and digital, and will explore partnering with existing PGA Tour and golf broadcasters to continue to grow the game."
Full live coverage of GolfTV, which will stream more than 2,000 hours of live coverage each year, will not be offered in some markets until existing deals with broadcasters have expired. However, in those markets where agreements are still in place, GolfTV will still be able to show the level of live content already available on PGA Tour Live, the Tour’s international streaming service that shows selected live holes and groups, along with non-live content.
Aside from Japan and Spain, Italy, Portugal and Australia are other key golf markets where PGA Tour rights become available from 2019.
|Live rights availability in various markets for PGA Tour|
|Year when rights available*||Country|
|2019||Australia, Belgium (Flemish), Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Turkey, Israel, Singapore, Malaysia, Malta, Philippines, Vietnam and Ukraine|
|2020||Colombia, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Latin America, Poland, South Korea and Thailand|
|2021||Austria, Belgium (French), Balkans, Germany, South Africa, Czech Republic, Switzerland, China and Taiwan|
|2022||Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand, UK & Ireland and India|
|2024||France, Middle East|
|* = Rights in all markets (excluding USA) to be managed by Discovery through strategic alliance with PGA Tour by 2024|