Golf Channel Expands with Japanese Partnership

Golf Channel Japan and Japan’s Golf Network, who have been competitors in the Japanese television market for 15 years, announced a long-term, strategic partnership that will combine assets from both networks to create one, co-branded channel to super-serve golf fans in Japan.

The press conference in Tokyo also included video congratulations by some of golf’s biggest names, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem, LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan and Golf Channel co-founder Arnold Palmer.

“This new partnership has been 15 years in the making and fans of golf in Japan are the beneficiaries. 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,” said Mike McCarley, president, Golf Channel.

Golf Channel programming is seen in more than 120 million homes in 78 countries worldwide. Since its launch as a 24-hour network in Japan in 1996, Golf Channel has competed with the Golf Network. Now as partners, the combined network will launch on April 1, 2012 with triple the homes (7.2 million) with access to Golf Channel programming. With approximately 12 million golfers, Japan ranks second only to the United States (26 million) as the largest golf market in the world.

“We are very excited to team up with the greatest golf-dedicated channel in the world. 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,” said Masashi Ishii, president, Golf Network.

When launched, the combined network will have additional rights to televise coverage of all the world’s major golf tours, including the PGA TOUR, LPGA Tour and European Tour, as well as men’s and women’s Major Championships, including the U.S. Open, Open Championship, PGA Championship, U.S. Women’s Open and Ricoh Women’s British Open. Golf Channel’s signature news shows like “Golf Central” and “Live From,” which will be localized on a live or near-live basis for Japanese viewers will be part of the programming lineup, as will entertainment shows like “Top 10” and instructional programming, such as “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, Fla.