Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy’s virtual golf league has scored a major win by securing ESPN as its U.S. media rights partner ahead of its January launch.
While financial details are unknown, ESPN had a first option for TGL’s rights, along with fellow PGA Tour broadcast partners CBS Sports and NBC Sports. The PGA Tour has a partnership with TGL parent company TMRW Sports.
But TGL also negotiated with other broadcast partners beyond those three, a source told Front Office Sports. Fox Sports previously had U.S. Open rights, and streaming companies like Amazon, Apple, and YouTube could have been fitting partners given TGL’s tech-forward approach.
In the end, ESPN won out, giving TGL a presence among mainstream sports fans that likely wouldn’t have developed otherwise. Golf Channel could have been an easy landing spot for TGL, but that network is available in 61 million homes, compared to ESPN’s 72 million.
The deal expands ESPN’s golf presence, which already includes first- and second-round and early weekend coverage of the Masters and PGA Championship, as well as its PGA Tour Live product on ESPN+.
Between TGL’s media and commercial deals and its team owners, it is clear the league is prioritizing top-tier stakeholders.
Earlier this week, TMRW Sports signed a wide-ranging deal with SoFi, the digital finance company that’s paying $30 million a year to have its name on the home stadium of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers. SoFi gets presenting sponsorship of TGL, and matches will be played at SoFi Center in Florida.