Golf Channel Lines Up European Tour Extension

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Golf Channel sank a renewal deal with the European Tour enabling the service to remain the exclusive home for the circuit’s event telecasts in the U.S., Canada and the Japan through 2014.

The seven-year deal, terms of which were not disclosed, goes into effect with the 2008 season. Golf’s most recent contract with the European Tour covered four years through the 2007 campaign.

Golf Channel, which completed its first season of an extensive new 15-year PGA Tour pact, will continue to air a minimum of 32 European Tour events as part of the pact, which also includes rights for the Internet and wireless applications for the first time. In addition, Golf gains exclusive broadcast rights for the 2010 and 2014 Ryder Cups, the biennial team competition between U.S. and European squads. The Comcast Corp. owned service also holds the option to air magazine show European Tour Weekly.

Golf, which featured the European Tour event, the Dubai Desert Classic, as its first tournament telecast in 1995, has helped raise the profile of the circuit, covering some 52 events, here in the States, where the matches typically air in the morning, owing to the difference in time zones.

Among the notables that regularly play the European Tour: U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera, British Open champion Padraig Harrington, England’s 2007 European Tour Order of Merit winner Justin Rose, Andres Romero Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter; Lee Westwood, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Niclas Fasth. 

During 2007, players competed for annual prize money that exceeded $190 million. Next season, the season-ending “Race to Dubai” chase, which commences in November 2008 and features a $10 million bonus pool, should lift the tour’s profile even more.

“We’re extremely pleased to be continuing our great relationship with The European Tour,” said Golf president Page Thompson in a statement. “Our viewers love the top-quality golf, the exotic locales, and the distinctive announcing style of Renton Laidlaw and the rest of The European Tour team.  Whatever tour you want to watch, you can find it on ‘Golf’s home’.”

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