SBJ/June 12 - 18, 2006/This Weeks News

NBC will beef up Web site for U.S. Open golf tourney

Four months after its successful production of nbcolympics.com, NBC is making another charge into the world of multimedia.

A revenue-sharing deal with the USGA has the network working to enhance the golf organization’s Web site for this week’s 106th U.S. Open. USOpen.com will offer original content along with repurposed pieces from NBC’s television broadcast from Winged Foot Country Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y. NBC Sports has brought on Charles Schwab and Lincoln Financial as charter sponsors for the site, with each paying an additional fee on top of its regular U.S. Open media buy.

Jon Miller, NBC Sports senior vice president of programming, said it’s likely this could be the start of a long-term online arrangement between NBC and the USGA, especially considering the network has rights to broadcast the U.S. Open through 2014. Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics, said the network is also in talks with the PGA of America about managing its Web site for the 2006 Ryder Cup, an event NBC will broadcast along with the USA Network later this year.

“Golf is a perfect Internet sport,” Zenkel said. “The U.S. Open is not two hours — it’s probably eight or 10 hours, especially on Thursday and Friday. So for those who aren’t going to be able to watch all eight or 10 hours, it gives them a chance to stay up and see the shots and highlights they might not have been able to see when it was broadcast.”

NBC creative director Mark Levy will oversee the project along with the USGA’s online team. Zenkel said a high percentage of the site’s content will be original and have contributions from some of NBC’s on-air talent, including a spot or series of spots recounting Winged Foot’s U.S. Open history. Footage of players during practice rounds and other scene-setters in the days leading up to the first round are also planned.

Updated highlights will be provided at least five times a day beginning with Thursday’s opening round, with the length of each package running from one to four minutes. Other parts of the television broadcast will be repurposed for the Web, such as player interviews, shot packages of individual players and hole-by-hole flyovers. Marty Parkes, the USGA’s senior director of communications, said 90 million page views — an increase of more than 10 percent from last year’s totals — is a realistic expectation with the new enhancements.

ESPN, which will televise 14 hours of play during the first two rounds, will provide live video streaming from two holes on USOpen.com. Action from Winged Foot’s par-4 sixth and par-3 10th holes at Winged Foot will be shown from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., two hours longer than what was on the site in past years.

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