The Golf Channel has lined up a contract for extensive live coverage of the men's Senior Professional Golfers Association Tour.
Starting in 2003, Golf will provide live three-round coverage of from 10 to 15 Senior PGA Tour events. It will also present Friday coverage for the balance of the senior circuit's tournaments. Pax TV is the circuit's current Friday telecaster.
The restructuring of the Senior PGA Tour's TV coverage — terms of which were not disclosed — also reduces the role of incumbent rightsholder CNBC.
The business-news channel, which supplanted ESPN as the tour's primary TV vehicle in 2001, will continue to provide largely taped Saturday and Sunday coverage of the events not picked up by Golf. It is expected that the PGA will stage between 30 and 32 Senior Tour tournaments during 2003.
Under the new agreement, Golf will present a minimum of two hours of live coverage daily, as well as a half-hour post-round Scoreboard Report.
Although the current deal only runs for one year, a Golf spokesman said the network and the Senior PGA are "looking at building a long-term partnership."
The Golf spokesman said the three-day tourney lineup would be determined at a later point, after coordinating its schedule with the tour itself.
"The Golf Channel is thrilled about our new relationship with the Senior PGA Tour," said Golf president David Manougian in a statement. "We look forward to bringing the personalities and expertise of Senior Tour players to our expanding menu of PGA Tour programming, which already includes exclusive coverage of the Buy.com tour and selected PGA Tour coverage."
Manougian also noted that the Senior Tour will "mesh perfectly with our mission to provide compelling programming, while also offering our rapidly growing audience insights and information that will help them improve their ability to play and enjoy the game."
To that end, Golf said it plans to plug the Senior PGA Tour and its members into its instructional programming and its Golf Central
news show, as well as Viewer's Forum, its discussion, analysis and commentary series.
Golf will also provide significant on-air promotion for its Senior Tour coverage. The tour will also benefit from exposure on TheGolfChannel.com, as well as through newspaper and magazine ads.