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GOLF CHANNEL REPORTEDLY IN TALKS WITH ESPN AND NBC SPORTS
Published October 30, 1995
The Golf Channel is involved in discussions with ESPN and NBC Sports, according to Joe Mandese of ADVERTISING AGE. An executive familiar with negotiations "said the networks are discussing equity stakes in the fledgling cable channel, or even an acquisition." TGC CEO Joe Gibbs has confirmed the talks, but "denied the channel is for sale." He wouldn't rule out "the possibility of minority stakes being sold to one of the sports programmers as part of an overall strategic partnership." Gibbs denied the discussions were necessary to raise money to keep the channel going, but he said TGC would likely need a "major new capital infusion in the next year" -- likely another $40-50M in the next year. Launched in January '95, TGC has recently converted to basic cable and its subscriber base is increasing, but industry execs say the base is still only around 200,000. The channel originally projected 1 million subscribers in its first year. As part of its initial bid to be a premium TV channel, TGC purchased tournament rights that it may have trouble paying off on basic cable. Adding "another sports programmer to absorb some of that coverage would help the Golf Channel manage those costs" (AD AGE, 10/30 issue).