SBD/Issue 100/Sports Media

LPGA Inks New Korean TV Deal With J Golf, Ending SBS Partnership

LPGA's New Deal With J Golf Means Severing 
15-Year Relationship With SBS
The LPGA is "taking a calculated risk for the 2010 schedule by signing a lucrative new deal for the Korean television rights to LPGA events with J Golf, a subsidiary of Joongang Daily News," according to Ron Sirak of GOLF WORLD. The new partnership "means severing a 15-year relationship" with the Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS), and "losing the SBS Open after the season-opening tournament at the Turtle Bay Resort in Hawaii." The income from Korean TV rights is the LPGA's "largest single revenue stream," and it is "safe to assume the value of the LPGA in the Korean market will only grow in direct proportion to the success of Korean players on tour." Sources indicated that the new partnership is a "multiyear deal likely worth in excess of $4[M] annually." That figure would be "up significantly from the $2.25[M] SBS says it paid to broadcast 30 events in Korea this year." SBS Int'l CEO & President Sang Chun said his company would "absolutely not" continue to sponsor the SBS Open when coverage moves to J Golf next year. Chun said that the LPGA "never told him what figure J Golf bid and that negotiations were ended so abruptly that he was told on a Friday afternoon that his Monday morning meeting with the tour would not be necessary." But IMG Media Senior VP Peter Smith, who negotiates int'l TV deals for the LPGA, said the LPGA "acted totally in good faith." Smith added that it "would be incorrect to assume a sponsor would not be found to replace SBS." Sirak notes the "risks for the LPGA in leaving SBS are twofold." First, SBS has a "proven track record of support" for the LPGA. The second risk is that J Golf is a "smaller operation than SBS." But the "reward for the LPGA appears to be a significant boost in cash from Korean TV beginning in 2010, a year in which shaking sponsorship dollars loose is going to be a major challenge" (GOLF WORLD, 2/16 issue). LPGA Chief Communications Officer David Higdon said in a statement, "The LPGA is diligently working on our TV rights arrangements both domestically and internationally. These rights agreements will not result in a net loss of events on our 2010 calendar" (THE DAILY).  

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