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IN LESS THAN SIX MONTHS, Comcast Corp.-owned sports networks have bought up their second major TV sports package--PGA Tour golf tournaments.

The Golf Channel has become the exclusive cable partner of the PGA Tour. ESPN had been PGA's cable TV partner. In the fall, Comcast's OLN grabbed the NHL games, another sports package that had aired on ESPN.

Golf Channel's deal is a long one--15 years. Starting in 2007, the network will carry early Thursday and Friday rounds of PGA events. Friday and Saturday weekend play continues on CBS and NBC.

In addition, Golf Channel will have full coverage of the first three events of the PGA Tour FedEx Cup season (Mercedes Championships, Sony Open in Hawaii, and the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic), as well as The Tour Championship presented by Coca-Cola.

The PGA Tour also inked new six-year broadcast network deals with CBS and NBC to go through the 2012 season, also starting in 2007.

CBS will expand its current role, increasing its events to 19 from 16. NBC will double its events to 10 from the current five. NBC will continue to air weekend telecasts of The Players Championship.

Some critics wonder if moving PGA's cable efforts from ESPN to Golf Channel makes good sense--considering that Golf Channel only gets to 70 million subscribers, versus ESPN's 90 million subscribers.

The PGA says it does--and that's why its deal with The Golf Channel is for fifteen years. As part of the deal, PGA Tour will help to further increase The Golf Channel's distribution beyond its current base.

http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticleHomePage&art_aid=38426
I've usually preferred Golf's coverage to ESPN anyways.
 
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