NBC is set to take over FOX Sports' 12-year US Open deal after the pay-TV network asked to conclude its partnership with the United States Golf Association (USGA), according to Associated Press (AP) sources. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been announced.
A formal announcement on the revised agreement is expected later today (Monday).
By taking over immediately, NBC will now broadcast four USGA championships this year: the U.S. Women's Amateur (Aug. 3-9), U.S. Amateur (Aug. 10-16), U.S. Open (Sept. 17-20) and U.S. Women's Open (Dec. 10-13).
The agreement granted Fox major championship golf for the first time ever, but, according to the Associated Press, the rights will revert back to NBC starting with the 2020 U.S. Open, which will now take place from September 17-20 at Winged Foot in NY after being postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The deal means Comcast-owned NBC will have the U.S. Open and British Open, The Players Championship, three World Golf Championships, the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup.
ESPN and NBC held the USGA rights prior to FOX winning the bid. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Open at Winged Foot was postponed from June to September 17-20, complicating the programming schedule for Fox Sports with its existing commitments to the NFL, MLB and college football. That led to deeper conversations about the contract and how it could be resolved.
"Recent events calling for the shift of the U.S. Open created scheduling challenges that were hard to overcome", said Eric Shanks, CEO and executive producer of FOX Sports.
The sources said NBC would have the final seven years of the contract through 2026. They did not say who would televise the early rounds of the U.S. Open. Under the previous contract with NBC, ESPN had the Thursday and Friday rounds. It also will have the FedEx Cup playoffs every other year when the new media rights deal with the PGA Tour begins, along with all majors on the LPGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions. The agreement also highlights how some broadcasters have been severely affected by the COVID pandemic, with Fox seemingly making an executive decision to end its deal in order to focus its resources on its other programming.
"Partnering with NBCUniversal, including Golf Channel, gives us an unparalleled opportunity to connect and engage with the core golf audience more directly and routinely, and as a non-profit, to continue to have a significant and lasting impact on the game".