ESPN, the Disney-owned international sports broadcaster, will air the inaugural season of the TGL golf competition next year as part of a multi-year rights deal.
TGL, the new tech-infused stadium-based golf league launched by former number ones Tiger Wood and Rory McIlroy’s TMRW sports entertainment venture, is set to kick off its inaugural season on January 9, 2024, with ESPN gaining rights to show all 15 regular season matches, as well as playoffs and finals.
The first match will be broadcast on ESPN in prime time and simulcast on the broadcaster’s streaming platform ESPN+.
The opening two weeks will see TGL airing on Tuesday nights in the US – 9pm ET on January 9 and 7pm ET on January 16 – to avoid a clash with ESPN’s coverage of college football’s National Championship game on January 8 and its Monday Night Football and NFL Wild Card game on January 15.
After those two matches, the league will largely move to Monday evenings.
ESPN said a detailed schedule for the entire season will be released at a later date, with TGL games to be broadcast on the ESPN or ESPN 2 channels and simulcast on ESPN+. A preview show will also air on ESPN’s sister channel ABC on December 30.
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Rosalyn Durant, ESPN executive vice president of programming and acquisitions, said: “Innovation and creativity are core to our ESPN mission and TGL will bring those tenets to life for golf fans.
“TGL is going to be a two-hour presentation unlike anything you have seen before. All players will wear live microphones and viewers will have unprecedented access during the competition. It’s an exciting landscape for presenting golf and we look forward to bringing it to fans.”
The league, which is being launched in partnership with the PGA Tour, is set to feature 18 PGA Tour players split into six teams playing two-hour, head-to-head matches in SoFi Center, a new specifically built arena in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
There will be 15 regular season matches, with playoffs to follow. Players will strike shots into a simulator live in front of fans in the arena.
Along with Woods and McIlroy, other players confirmed to compete are Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Max Homa, Rickie Fowler, Billy Horschel, Matt Fitzpatrick, Justin Rose, and Adam Scott.
Amid its new rights deal, TGL also announced four players that will join the competition – Tommy Fleetwood, Tom Kim, Tyrrell Hatton, and Shane Lowry – leaving only two empty slots to be claimed.
Four of the six teams have city and ownership designations. Arthur Blank, owner of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons leads TGL Atlanta, while Fenway Sports Group, owner of the MLB’s Red Sox and English soccer giants Liverpool, is behind TGL Boston. Steven Cohen, owner of MLB’s New York Mets, fronts TGL New York.
Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian and tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams own Los Angeles Golf Club alongside limited partners Alex Morgan, Michell Wie West, Servando Carrasco, and the NBA’s Antetokounopo brothers. The other two remaining ownership groups are yet to be announced.
Mike McCarley, chief executive of both TGL and TMRW Sports, said: “ESPN has embraced the concept from our very first meeting and we’re looking forward to launching TGL in prime time on ESPN.
“The two-hour match format has been designed for today’s sports fan, as it’s rooted in the traditions of golf, but adds technical elements that are unique to a modern, sports arena environment.”
The deal comes days after TMRW Sports announced a multi-year commercial partnership with SoFi Technologies that will see the digital personal finance company become the presenting sponsor of TGL and the league’s arena title sponsor.