By SCOTT HAMILTON
ESPN will remain the cable partner of the U.S. Golf Association after finalizing an eight-year extension through 2014.
The cable network, which has televised USGA championships since 1982, will continue to broadcast early rounds of the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open. ESPN will televise 14 hours of the U.S. Open and dedicate eight hours each to the U.S. Women’s Open and the U.S. Senior Open. ESPN also will air highlight and preview shows. ESPN Classic will have the option of providing re-airs of all four rounds, as well as televise the championships in most of Europe. As part of the deal, ESPN International was awarded expanded rights in Africa, in addition to its existing coverage in Asia, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America and Middle East.
The agreement also gives ESPN global multimedia rights to championship content, allowing it to provide real-time scoring and stream live video across its multiple online properties (including ESPN.com, ESPN360, ESPNDeportes.com and ESPN VOD).
That will allow ESPN to continue its par-3 Webcast coverage during Thursday and Friday rounds of the U.S. Open. Play, with commentary, from two par 3s at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club will be shown from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., as it was last year from Winged Foot. ESPN.com also will offer a selection of shot packs providing highlights of the championship leaders, as well as news conferences and analysis throughout the weekend.
“The USGA is a visionary organization and was one of our first partners to embrace and realize the value of our multimedia approach,” said John Wildhack, ESPN senior vice president of programming acquisitions and strategy.
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Scott Hamilton is a Golfweek business writer. To reach him e-mail [email protected]