NBCUniversal Expands Golf Channel’s International Reach
Golf Channel, the network Arnold Palmer co-founded 22 years ago, and NBCUniversal International Distribution, has two new distribution agreements in Japan, one of golf’s most influential international markets and host of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
One is with AbemaTV, a free, ad-funded, over-the-top digital platform application, which recently launched its golf-specific stream to complement its existing sports stream which includes soccer, baseball and professional wrestling. Through the agreement with NBCU International Distribution, AbemaTV’s golf stream will feature Golf Channel programming that includes: tournament coverage of the LPGA and European Tour, as well as a slate of high-quality news and instruction programming, including Golf Central, The Golf Fix, and Golf Channel Academy.
The commencement of the partnership has immediately provided AbemaTV’s golf stream viewers with a strong slate of compelling programming, beginning with the kickoff of the 2017 LPGA Tour season. With more than 10 million app downloads, AbemaTV has experienced rapid growth since launching in April 2016, particularly in the adults 18-34 demo. The partnership will see both sides work in collaboration on marketing, integration and promotional assets as it relates to Golf Channel programming within the AbemaTV app.
The other new agreement in the Japanese market is with linear TV platform WOWOW, which will significantly expand its coverage of LPGA Tour events for its nearly 3 million subscribers. Additionally, Golf Channel’s production of all North American LPGA events will provide support to WOWOW’s golf programming, and the partnership will expand WOWOW’s golf-content offering to feature high-quality Golf Channel original programming.
“Golf is a global game, and Golf Channel’s deep commitment to covering all facets of the sport helps to serve golf fans around the world through partners like AbemaTV and WOWOW,” says Phil Piazza, Golf Channel Senior Vice President, Programming. “Golf fans are some of the most affluent and highly engaged viewers who appreciate not only the action of professional tournament coverage around the world, but also the insightful news and analysis on Golf Central, as well as award-winning original programming like Feherty and the critically acclaimed slate of Golf Films.”
“The appeal of golf programming continues to grow around the world,” says Belinda Menendez, President, NBCUniversal International Distribution & Networks. “We’re pleased to have the opportunity to expand upon our existing relationships with AbemaTV and WOWOW through these new agreements, partnering with them in delivering top-quality golf and sports content.”
In the U.S., Golf Channel in 2016 matched its highest-rated year ever for the third consecutive year (.08 U.S. household rating, 24-hour total day 6AM-6PM) since the network was founded 22 years ago. Since becoming part of NBCUniversal in 2011, Golf Channel has scored its six best years ever and has increased ratings +60% and viewership +53% over that span, according to data released by The Nielsen Company. Viewership growth was driven in part by millennials with impressions for persons 25-34 increasing +33% in total day, a mark that has doubled over the past two years, as well as +43% in primetime. Also in 2016, Golf Channel continued as the No. 1 most-affluent ad-supported television network in both total day and primetime for the third consecutive year with the highest median household income.