Discovery President & CEO David Zaslav said he hopes his company's exclusive video deal with Tiger Woods can "build a golf Netflix." Zaslav, speaking on CNBC this morning, feels the deal could see the new GolfTV platform, which launches in January, emerge with 2-10 million people “around the world that will pay to get golf." Zaslav said of Woods: "He gets the benefit of all of our Tour content, he gets the benefit of all of our editorial ... and he can help us craft that product. A lot of people will buy it for Tiger, but I think the product is going to be a lot better by having Tiger work with us on what people want to see.” Woods, who appeared via satellite from the Bahamas, said his efforts for Discovery will “be just wrapped into” his existing practice and competitive schedule. Woods said he may say things to fans on GolfTV that he would not say to a “media scrum,” because such comments would see him "get fined by the Tour.” Zaslav called the Woods deal the “cherry on top of our golf strategy.” He noted the company “really took a big pivot four or five years ago when we went from a traditional nonfiction company to asking ourselves, ‘How do we create content that people would want?’” Woods: "The part that intrigued me the most is that I will have the ability for the very first time to talk directly to my fans and answer their questions. ... So we're able to create far more content than any other golf magazine has ever been able to do, and it's on a global level" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 11/28).
VALUE PROPOSITION: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Micah Maidenburg reported Discovery "hasn’t announced the price of a subscription" to GolfTV, which will only be outside the U.S. at the outset. The deal with Woods is the venture’s "first announcement of additional content," and financial terms of the deal "weren’t disclosed." Discovery is "exploring how to distribute the Tiger Woods content in the U.S., either on its own or in partnership with another media company" (WSJ.com, 11/27). Zaslav said that Woods has completely bought into the idea -- sold, in part, by Discovery’s portfolio that includes Oprah Winfrey’s OWN channel and Food Network. “One thing that we’ve figured out is that personalities are more powerful than brands,” Zaslav said. “We're a global IP company, and the epitome of great IP is content that people love -- that’s why we bought Food and HGTV.” Zaslav said he settled on Woods because of the golfer’s worldwide popularity. Zaslav described the content as something that can help draw younger fans to the sport (John Ourand, THE DAILY).
MR. WORLDWIDE: GOLF DIGEST's Sam Weinman noted Woods and his team have "traditionally treaded carefully with what the golfer shares with the public." But Discovery Golf President & GM Alex Kaplan said that Woods was "enthusiastic about partnering in the new venture, perhaps because it represented a new way to engage with a worldwide audience" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 11/27). USA TODAY's Adam Woodward noted 20 markets around the world "will be able to access" GolfTV next year. By '24, the reach "will expand to 43 markets" (USATODAY.com, 11/27).
AT&T will "no longer carry the Pac-12 Networks on its U-verse service, effective Sunday," according to Jon Wilner of the San Jose MERCURY NEWS. Neither Big Ten Network nor SEC Network has "ever lost a major distribution partner." The Pac-12's contract with AT&T, which "included U-verse and a wireless sponsorship deal ... expired this summer." Pac-12 Networks President Mark Shuken in July said that he was "working on an extension of the deal." But that extension, which "remained in place through the football season, has expired." Wilner notes his "best guess is that approximately 400,000-500,000 subs watch the Pac-12 Networks on U-verse." With U-verse gone, so is "any chance of a DirecTV deal with it, at least for the near future," as well as the "wireless sponsorship component." The Pac-12 going forward will "partner with wireless companies that are also fully committed to distribution." But losing AT&T "cannot be framed as anything other than a blow to the conference" and Commissioner Larry Scott, as Pac-12 Nets was "his brainchild" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 11/28).ESPN's Arash Markazi tweeted, "The Pac-12 Network is going in the wrong direction with providers." Awful Announcing: "Back when AT&T bought DirecTV, some thought that might lead to DirecTV finally adding the Pac-12 Networks. ... Now it's gone the other way" (TWITTER.com, 11/27).
POSITIONED AS AN OUTLIER: In Portland, John Canzano in a front-page piece takes a deep dive into the struggles faced by Scott and the Pac-12 relating to the college football arms race, and notes the Pac-12 is the "only conference that owns and runs its own television network." Of the 112 full-time employees who work for the Pac-12, "only 42 work for the conference itself." The rest are "employed by the network." The SEC and Big Ten "sell their media rights but aren't in the media-production business." The Pac-12 offices "include 90,000 of square footage dedicated to studios, production bays, control rooms and a host of directors, technicians, equipment and talent." The "cost of maintaining its own television network is substantial," and the "failure to get distribution of the Pac-12 Network on DirecTV is a maddening issue for fans and coaches." Sources said that the ratings, "guarded carefully by the conference, are a disappointment." There is also "private grumbling from ADs and coaches about less money and exposure compared to the other Power 5 conferences, but few will speak publicly." The Pac-12's choice to "run its own network and lock into early distribution agreements has left the conference on the sidelines as others negotiated lucrative television rights deals and digital rights fees" (Portland OREGONIAN, 11/28).