Monday, September 30, 2013

History of Presidents Cup TV coverage (1994-present)

The Presidents Cup launched in 1994 to capitalize on the growing popularity of the biennial Ryder Cup and fill the void in the off-years.

Here is a summary of my research on how the TV coverage of the Presidents Cup has evolved since the start of this event. For match venues outside of North America, the time zone challenges have resulted in some interesting TV scheduling. All listings of hours refer to scheduled TV coverage. 

<EDITED on 12/11/2019 to bring this up to date as of the 2019 event>  

Chronology of Presidents Cup TV coverage

1994 - CBS and ESPN covered the inaugural Presidents Cup which was a 3-day event with double sessions on Friday and Saturday. ESPN televised the Friday action with Jim Kelly hosting. CBS handled the weekend coverage (3 hours on Saturday and 4 on Sunday) with Jim Nantz and Ken Venturi anchoring the booth. Gary McCord, Ben Wright, Verne Lundquist, Peter Kostis, and Jim Nelford were also part of the CBS crew. This event took place during the first year that CBS had lost the NFL rights, so the Sunday coverage went up against football on both Fox and NBC. Multiple CBS affiliates (Baltimore, Tampa, Tucson) chose not to air the network coverage of the Presidents Cup that weekend.

1996 - For the second straight time, the event was held in the USA and the TV coverage was similar to 1994. This was the first year of a new college football package on CBS with Nantz as the lead announcer. But the network didn't cover any football games on Presidents Cup weekend, so Nantz called the golf matches.

1998 - The matches took place in Australia and the 16-hour time difference from the USA east coast resulted in some interesting programming. ESPN provided live coverage of the Friday sessions stating at 4 pm ET on Thursday. On Friday at 4 pm ET, ESPN covered the Saturday morning session live. However, CBS held the Saturday afternoon session for 16-hour tape delay on Saturday. On Sunday, CBS televised 3 hours of the singles matches on tape delay at 4 pm ET after its NFL coverage of 1 pm ET games. CBS did not send Nantz to Australia, instead keeping him in his host role on The NFL Today that weekend. Bill Macatee served as lead announcer for the Presidents Cup alongside Venturi.

2000 - The event remained at 5 sessions but expanded to the current 4-day format (starting Thursday afternoon and leaving Friday as the only double session day). The Presidents Cup also acquired new TV partners. TNT covered the Thursday and Friday sessions with Ernie Johnson anchoring. NBC televised the weekend action (6 hours each day) with Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller as the lead announcers. By this time, NBC had lost the NFL contract.

2003 - With the event in South Africa, all TV coverage (a combined 29 hours on TNT and NBC) was on tape delay.

2005 - The double session moved to its current Saturday spot on the schedule. NBC expanded to 16 weekend hours.

2007 - This event took place in Canada so the TV schedule was identical to that of 2005.

2009 - Golf Channel took over the cable rights. Brian Hammons hosted the action on GC with Paul Azinger and Nick Faldo as co-lead analysts. Hicks and Miller continued to host the NBC telecasts with many of the NBC voices working the telecasts on both networks.

2011 - The matches returned to Australia with its 16-hour time difference. This time Golf Channel covered the entire event live with telecasts spanning prime time on Wednesday through Saturday evenings in the USA. The NBC weekend coverage consisted of taped replays of the final two days of Golf Channel telecasts. Terry Gannon hosted day 1 while Hicks and Miller came aboard on day 2. David Feherty was also part of the GC telecast team.

2013 - The TV schedule was quite similar to 2009. Gannon and Frank Nobilo anchored the Golf Channel coverage while Hicks and Miller once again led the NBC telecast team.

2015 - With the matches in South Korea (13 hour time difference), the TV coverage was patterned after that of 2011. Golf Channel provided live coverage in prime time of each session while NBC again offered taped replays of the Saturday and Sunday action.

2017 - The coverage is similar to 2013 with Golf Channel adding a half hour over what it did that year.

2019 - With the matches in Australia, the TV coverage was similar to that of 2011.

Total scheduled TV time for the Presidents Cup by year

Note: All coverage live except where noted. For 2011, 2015, and 2019, I am not counting the NBC coverage in the total hours since it was a replay of what aired on Golf Channel.

1994:            15.5 hours (8.5 on ESPN, 7 on CBS)
1996:            17.5 hours (8.5 on ESPN, 9 on CBS)
1998:            22 hours (14 on ESPN, 8 on CBS) - all CBS coverage on tape delay
2000:            29 hours (17 on TNT, 12 on NBC)
2003:            29 hours (17 on TNT, 12 on NBC) - all TV coverage on tape delay
2005-2007:  27 hours (11 on TNT, 16 on NBC)
2009:            27 hours (11 on GC, 16 on NBC)
2011:            29.5 hours (29.5 on GC, 14 on NBC) - all NBC coverage on tape delay (replay of GC coverage)
2013:            27 hours (11 on GC, 16 on NBC)
2015:            27.5 hours (27.5 on GC, 9.5 on NBC) - all NBC coverage on tape delay (replay of GC coverage)
2017:            27.5 hours (11.5 on GC, 16 on NBC)
2019:            28.5 hours (28.5 on GC, 8.5 on NBC) - all NBC coverage on tape delay (replay of GC coverage)

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