Golf Channel and the LPGA Tour have holed a three-year extension of the network's exclusive rights to the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the season's first major championship.
The deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed, follows Golf Channel's inaugural presentation of the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2011, which resulted in record ratings and a major uptick in coverage hours.
Golf Channel, whose overall LPGA Tour Nielsens were up 30% in 2011, teed off with the tournament's highest-rated and most-watched first round in 18 years, which was followed by a second round that was the highest in 17 years, according to network officials. Golf Channel also aired 280% more hours of coverage than the previous year when the event aired on CBS and ESPN2 -- 34 hours in 2011, versus nine in 2010. Average viewers for the entire tournament increased 29% to 511,000 on Golf Channel in 2011 from 395,000 on CBS/ESPN2 the year before.
"Extending our exclusive partnership with the LPGA Tour and the Kraft Nabisco Championship is great for fans of the game and the excitement that the season's first major championship brings," said Golf Channel president Mike McCarley in announcing the rights renewal. "We're looking forward to showcasing these compelling stories for our viewers and providing a home for the tournament for years to come."
LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan: "Based on the strong promotional advertising, the incredible tournament coverage and ‘storytelling,' and the record-high viewership results that occurred in 2011, we're excited to partner with Golf Channel and continue showcasing the LPGA's first major,.
The Kraft Nabisco Championship is one of two LPGA Tour major championships airing exclusively on Golf Channel in 2012 -- the Wegmans LPGA Championship is scheduled form June 7-10. This week's Kraft Nabisco Championship features an elite field, headlined by defending champion Stacy Lewis and current World No. 1 Yani Tseng, who already has won three times in 2012 and is seeking her sixth major title. Golf Channel will begin its coverage with a one-hour Golf Central Special Wednesday at 10 p.m. (ET) on the eve of the tourney.
Kraft Nabisco Championship Live Airtimes (all times Eastern)
Golf Central Special 10-11 p.m. Live
Thursday and Friday
Golf Central Pregame 1:30 a.m.-Noon Live
Rounds 1/2 Noon-3 p.m. Live
Golf Central 6-6:30 p.m. Live
Rounds 1/2 6:30-9:30 p.m. Live
Rounds 1/2 1:30-4:30 a.m. Replay
Saturday and Sunday
Golf Central Pregame 4-4:30 p.m. Live
Rounds 3/4 4:30-8:30 p.m. Live
Rounds 3/4 Midnight-4 a.m. Replay