29 JUN 2020

GOLF US OPEN RETURNS TO NBC AS FOX CONTRACT COMES TO AN END

The US Open was initially scheduled for last week but was postponed to 17-20 Sept. at Winged Foot in New York when the pandemic shut down golf for three months. Fox was contemplating moving the U.S. Open to FS1.

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The US Open will return to NBC starting this year at Winged Foot soon after Fox Sports asked to end its 12-year contract with the USGA, multiple people told The Associated Press on Sunday night. Sources say the decision was agreed upon over the last two weeks. The U.S. Open was originally scheduled to occur last week but was then postponed to 17-20 Sept. at Winged Foot in New York when the pandemic shut down golf for three months.

Another source said NBC would pay for just under half of the rights fee through the rest of the contract. Two other people said the deal began to take shape this month, especially with the U.S. Open being moved to September during the opening month of the NFL. It has been said that Fox was contemplating moving the U.S. Open to FS1, an idea that was rebuffed by Mike Davis, the CEO of the USGA, leading to resolution considerations. 

Fox Sports faced challenges amid the contract due to the USGA’s championships, primarily the Opens and Amateurs, were the only golf it produced. The sources said NBC would have the final seven years of the contract through 2026. The person who will televise the early rounds of the U.S. Open was not announced. Under the previous contract with NBC, ESPN had the Thursday and Friday rounds.

NBC televised the U.S. Open from 1995 through 2014 until the USGA signed a 12-year deal with Fox Sports worth about USD 1 billion that began in 2015. Fox broadcast its first U.S. Open from Chambers Bay south of Seattle, with Greg Norman as the lead analyst. He was replaced by former PGA champion and Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger.

ESPN now has the weekday rounds of the PGA Championship starting this year, with the CBS doing the weekend. The deal Comcast-owned NBC, along with Golf Channel, the U.S. Open and British Open, The Players Championship, three World Golf Championships, the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup. It also will have the FedEx Cup playoffs every other year when the new media rights deal with the PGA Tour begins. NBC and Golf Channel also will have all the majors on the LPGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions.