ESPN and The R&A Reach Eight-Year Agreement for The Open Championship

ESPN and
The R&A, the organizer of The Open Championship, have reached an eight-year
agreement that will place all four rounds of The Open Championship live on ESPN
beginning in 2010. The new pact will also provide comprehensive rights for
digital platforms, expanded television and digital media rights for ESPN
International, and same-day weekend highlights coverage on ABC.
ESPN will
televise 34 live hours of Championship play over the four days and produce six
hours of encore highlights coverage over the weekend for ABC. The coverage
on ABC will extend The R& A’s relationship with ABC past the half-century
mark.
“One of
the most venerable of all sporting events has embraced the 21st
century worldwide media landscape, and we’re thrilled to showcase The Open
Championship like never before,” said George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN and
ABC Sports. “The scope of this deal and the enhancements we obtained offer us
tremendous opportunities to serve The R&A and golf fans around the world
through any device.”
“It is
all important to The R&A that we preserve the traditions of The Open
Championship while at the same time ensuring that golf fans are able to enjoy
modern state-of-the-art coverage of the event,” added Peter Dawson, chief executive
of The R&A. “We know just how much ESPN respects The Open’s heritage and we
are very excited by their many innovative plans to cover the Championship
across the whole media spectrum, both in the United States and internationally. We
look forward to a long and productive relationship.”
Alastair
Johnston, IMG vice chairman, who led the negotiating team representing The
R&A added, “We had to consider not only the financial terms but The
R&A’s overall mission to promote and develop the game of golf to an
evolving global audience. Envisaging the platforms where a younger
generation could be positively influenced to experience The Open Championship
over the next decade was a significant factor in assembling this arrangement
with ESPN.”
The deal
also includes exclusive
U.S.
coverage of all rounds of the Senior Open Championship, which is governed
jointly by The R&A and the PGA European Tour, and coverage of the next two
Walker Cups when contested in the
United Kingdom (2011 and
2015). In all, there will be 90-plus television hours and 40-plus hours of
live coverage on ESPN360.com and ESPN Mobile TV. ESPN will provide
unprecedented live coverage of the Championships, including the first and
second rounds of The Open Championship, which will begin at 5 a.m.
ET.
As in all
recent major rights acquisitions, the wide-ranging agreement will cover
multiple businesses around the world through ESPN’s various platforms — ESPN,
ABC, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN International, ESPN.com, ESPN360.com ,
ESPNDeportes.com and ESPN Mobile Properties, interactive television, ESPN in
Latin America/Caribbean, TSN and RDS in Canada, ESPN Star Sports in Asia, and
ESPN360 services in Mexico, Chile, and Brazil.
The deal
also includes digital rights in all territories (excluding
China)
including live streaming of all events, expansive multiplatform highlight
rights (online, broadband, and wireless); television and digital VOD;
interactive television, and mobile TV.