Discovery CEO David Zaslav on Bringing PGA to the World

Photo Credit: Paul Terry/REX/Shutterstock
June 4, 2018

By Michael Teich

Golf is the "most international league in the world."

That's according to Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav, who told Cheddar on Monday that the sport's global appeal is what prompted his company to sign a $2-billion deal to broadcast tournaments around the world.

He said he asked himself, "What content could we own that people would pay for before they pay for dinner?"

“As we looked at," Zaslav said, "what is the global sports league that has the most fans, that is the most international that could work in a way that everybody in the world would want to wake up in the morning pay, for it and get nourished by an ecosystem?”

"We came to the conclusion, it’s golf."

Discovery, which owns networks including Food Network, Travel Channel, and HGTV, announced a 12-year agreement with the PGA Tour on Monday to broadcast about 2,000 hours of content a year, covering over 140 tournaments annually. The partnership begins in 2019 and includes media rights and investments for a streaming-video platform. The new OTT service which Zaslav compared to Netflix will be available in 220 markets.

“When people pay for something, they want to feel like they are getting a lot of what they love,” said Zaslav.

Zaslav spoke to Cheddar's Jon Steinberg, along with Jay Monahan, Commissioner of the PGA Tour, who sees the partnership as a way to take the tour to the rest of the world. He emphasized that the PGA Tour's members come from 25 countries, and half of the top 50 players in the world are from outside the U.S.

“Fifty-five percent of a $170 billion industry is outside the United States,” Monahan said. “This is a global game.”

Zaslav sees a particularly potent opportunity with golf coverage in Asia. "There are two players on the PGA Tour already that are very good that are from China," he said. "And there's a growing array of talent." On top of that is a potential audience in China of 1.5 billion people.

Details on pricing for the OTT service were not disclosed.