SBJ/October 22-28, 2012/Media

USGA hires Wasserman Media Group for media negotiations

The U.S. Golf Association has retained Wasserman Media Group to be its consultant for media rights and digital strategy as the association approaches the next round of negotiations in 2014.

“The USGA has secured the services of Wasserman to help inform and guide the USGA in its strategy for broadcast and digital platforms,” said Joe Goode, the USGA’s chief communications officer. “How we package, integrate and deliver content in the future is critical to the growth of the association. Wasserman will help us figure out the best way to deliver that content to any screen.”

The New Jersey-based USGA packages its major golf tournaments in separate deals with NBC, ESPN and Golf Channel, all of which expire in 2014. The combined annual revenue from all three of these deals is $35 million to $38 million a year, according to industry insiders.

The broadcast deal with NBC includes weekend coverage of the USGA’s flagship tournament, the U.S. Open, as well as the U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open. ESPN is the cable partner for early-round coverage of those same events.

NBC and Golf Channel share the broadcast of the U.S. Amateur, and Golf Channel carries the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

The NBC and ESPN contracts will be negotiated first, with each network owning an exclusive negotiating window that begins in June 2013 and runs through August. Golf Channel’s window begins in January 2014. When Golf Channel struck its current deal with the USGA in 2009, the network was not in the same ownership group with NBC, as it is now, and that’s why they have separate negotiating periods.

Wasserman won the business in a competition with at least two other agencies: CAA Sports and Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures. The USGA issued a Request for Proposal in July and notified Wasserman in late September.

Malcolm Turner, president of Wasserman Golf, and Dean Jordan, the agency’s media consultant, will spearhead the USGA business. Jordan also works as a consultant for the BCS and a number of college conferences.

Sarah Hirshland, senior managing director of business affairs, will lead the media negotiations for the USGA. Hirshland, prior to joining the USGA last year, worked with Turner and Jordan when she was an executive at Wasserman and previously at OnSport.

The USGA has been in business with NBC since 1995, meaning they will have been partners for 20 seasons when the current deal expires.

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