ESPN, USGA to Tee It Up Through 2014

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ESPN will keep its hand on its most significant golf property well into the next decade.

The sports-programming behemoth reached an eight-year contract extension with the United States Golf Association, maintaining its position as the exclusive cable partner of the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open through 2014.

Deal terms were not disclosed, but the agreement affords ESPN extensive global multimedia rights, encompassing increased exposure for the events internationally and via new-media offerings. NBC is the broadcast partner for the USGA events.

With The Golf Channel now swinging as the PGA Tour’s cable partner, the USGA tournaments represent ESPN’s only live golf events. Elsewhere, sister service ESPN2 provides extensive coverage of the LPGA tour and sister service ABC airs The British Open and the Skins Games events.

ESPN, which has televised the USGA championships since 1982, will continue to televise 14 hours of the U.S. Open and a combined eight hours of the women’s and senior tournaments on Thursdays and Fridays. For its part, ESPN Classic can provide domestic USGA coverage and highlights with an option for providing reairs of all championship rounds and rights to televise the championships in Europe, excluding the United Kingdom.

ESPN also holds comprehensive rights to USGA highlight films and footage both for TV and new media, including ESPN.com, ESPN360, ESPNDeportes.com and ESPN VOD.

New-media elements include the ability to stream content on ESPN360 and ESPN-branded mobile-content packages, such as interactive-TV offerings -- notably multimedia camera angles and real-time data feeds.

“We’re thrilled to remain the home of USGA championships,” ESPN president George Bodenheimer said in a prepared statement. “The USGA has long embraced our multimedia approach, which will continue to provide compelling content to golf fans and present opportunities to expand the audience of the sport.”

“We have enjoyed a long and excellent relationship with ESPN,” USGA president Walter Driver Jr. said in a prepared statement. “We are pleased that ESPN continues to value distributing our national golf championships. We consider ESPN part of the USGA family.”

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