Golf Channel Japan and Japan's Golf Network are pairing to form a more content-rich service in that nation.
The parties have created a long-term strategic partnership combining the assets of both channels that will manifest as a co-branded network that will tee off on April 1. Deal terms were not disclosed.
Since its launch as a 24-hour network in Japan in 1996, Golf Channel has competed with the Golf Network. As partners, the combined network will launch on April 1, 2012 into 7.2 million homes on the island nation. With some 12 million golfers, Japan ranks second only to the United States, where 26 million play, as the largest golf market in the world.
Part of the NBC Sports Group, Golf Channel, which counts some 2.7 million of its 120 million worldwide homes in Japan, will contribute its media rights to LPGA, Champions and Nationwide Tour, as well as original programming, including Golf Central and Live From, which will be localized on a live or near-live basis for Japanese viewers. In addition, network viewers come spring will be able to watch entertainment fare like Top 10, plus instructional programming, The Golf Fix and School of Golf. The shows will continue to be produced by Golf Channel's Japanese Production and commentating teams at Golf Channel headquarters in Orlando.
For its part, Golf Network, which reached some 7 million Japanese homes, has rights to the PGA Tour in that nation.
The co-branded channel will televise the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championships.
"This new partnership has been 15 years in the making and fans of golf in Japan are the beneficiaries" said Golf Channel president Mike McCarley in a statement. "The overwhelmingly positive support we have received from the golf community around the globe in putting this agreement together has made this a strong relationship that will serve the millions of Japanese golfers for years to come."
"We are very excited to team up with the greatest golf-dedicated channel in the world, noted Masashi Ishii, president of Jupiter Golf Network Co. Ltd. "Combining Golf Channel's highly acclaimed programs with our programs will result in a great expansion, providing Japanese golf fans a value-added service. I am sure that this is a significant page for each of our company's history, and will be looking forward on bringing together the best of golf to Japan."
The partnership was announced Nov. 22 at a press conference in Tokyo.