The timing wasn’t exactly great for the big announcement, but nonetheless the announcement has been made. Fox Sports is the new media partner for the United States Golf Association and it’s myriad of championships.
Why Fox Sports and the USGA felt it was appropriate to unveil the relationship on the eve of the PGA Championship is beyond me. Maybe the news would have been leaked since the USGA notified NBC and ESPN their services were no longer needed after 2014, but one has to believe they could have found a way to delay the announcement until after the PGA.
Getting past the timing of the announcement, this could be big news for golf fans. Golf, as a spectator sport, has grown despite participation in the game declining. New sports networks coming online in the form of Fox Sports 1, recent additions of CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Network has created a high demand for sports properties. So the USGA struck when the iron was hot, in the form of a deal that will pay the USGA $37 to $40 Million annually for 12 years beginning 2015.
Fox Sports is best known for their coverage of NASCAR and the National Football League. Upon entering the NFL game, Fox Sports made a big splash by securing many of the top broadcasters and analysts. So how will they approach covering the game of golf, building a team from scratch?
So let’s look at who won’t be involved in covering the US Open in light of the change in media partners. No more Chris Berman on Thursday and Friday to the delight of golf fans. Berman enjoyed his affiliation with the US Open and it’s been reported it was a key part of his contract renewal with ESPN. Unfortunately Berman’s style just wasn’t received well by core golf fans.
Dottie Pepper retired from roaming the fairways for NBC to soon land a part-time gig with ESPN. Not having Pepper involved in the production of the US Women’s Open will be a loss.
As far as host responsibilities, Mike Tirico does a good job. Unfortunately the overall ESPN production involves too many “Features” and not enough live golf. Such is the case when you commit to covering 10 to 12 hours of golf a day.
Most notably left off the coverage will be Johnny Miller of NBC. Second to Miller will be the contributions of Roger Maltbie as the walking reporter.
So who’s gonna fill their shoes? Here’s one vote for getting Paul Azinger involved. Zinger is one of the sharpest, more astute analysts who isn’t scared to share an edgy opinion.
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