Golf News for Wednesday, March 13, 2013 | Media

Rising ratings lead to most televised hours in LPGA history

DAYTONA BEACH / ORLANDO, Fla. -- With a continuously growing worldwide fan base and increased television ratings, the LPGA today unveiled its 2013 tournament schedule on Golf Channel, which features nearly 300 hours of original coverage, all North American weekend telecasts aired live and production features designed to spotlight LPGA stars. In addition to a 22 percent increase of tournament coverage over last year, all telecasts through the end of the 2013 season will be broadcast in high-definition.

Coming off of the most-watched LPGA Tour event from Asia in five years at the HSBC Women’s Champions, the domestic schedule kicks in this week from Phoenix, Ariz., at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. The LPGA Tour has seen a 68 percent ratings increase over the past two seasons of domestic tournaments.

“Our fans have pushed the tour’s television coverage and ratings to new heights and we’re pleased to present them with even more opportunities to watch our players in action,” said Brian Carroll, LPGA Vice President of Television and Emerging Media. “Our strong partnership with Golf Channel has provided us with many exciting ways to further showcase our players, not only during tournament telecasts, but also beyond the golf course.”

“The LPGA Tour continues to be a key part of Golf Channel’s overall tournament coverage,” said Molly Solomon, Golf Channel Executive Producer. “We have developed a great collaborative relationship with the Tour and invested more resources to better serve our loyal fans, which has created more inside-the-ropes access and more hours of coverage.”

Highlights of the television schedule include:

- For the second-consecutive year, the tour will have live coverage for more than 90 percent of North American telecasts, including 100 percent of weekend telecasts.

- Nearly 30 hours of live coverage of The Solheim Cup, the biennial, international match play competition pitting the United States versus Europe. In addition to the telecasts, Golf Channel will also have live coverage of The Solheim Cup’s opening and closing ceremonies. The last playing of The Solheim Cup in the U.S. at Rich Harvest Farms outside Chicago in 2009 featured the highest viewed LPGA round (Sunday) in Golf Channel history.

- Golf Channel will again provide robust tournament coverage at major championships at both the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Wegmans LPGA Championship. The Kraft Nabisco garnered the highest ratings on the network for a single event on the LPGA Tour last season, including the most-watched first round of the event on any cable network in 19 years and most-watched second round in 18 years. Golf Channel also will air live coverage of the LPGA’s fifth major, the Evian Championship, formerly the Evian Masters, contested Sept. 12-15.

- Golf Channel will televise pro-am shows from three tournaments – Kraft Nabisco Championship (April 4-7), Manulife Financial LPGA Classic (July 11-14) and CME Group Titleholders (Nov. 21-24) – when viewers will get inside-the-ropes access to the pros as they prepare for competition.

Golf Channel will continue to showcase LPGA players’ personalities and will promote features that provide an inside look at the world’s best female golfers. After its well-received debut during the telecast of the season-finale CME Group Titleholders last year, the ‘Twitter Takeover’ segment will make a return this season, beginning this week at the RR Donnelley Founders Cup. The feature will regularly highlight players in the Golf Channel booth taking over the LPGA’s Twitter account (@lpga) and will provide a unique fan-interaction platform where players can answer fan questions and respond to comments using the hashtag, #LPGAonGC. Golf Channel also will produce segments with a behind-the-scenes take at selected pro-am events, as well as having players swap roles with the broadcast production crew.

Golf Channel’s LPGA broadcast team will include mostly familiar faces, with a few notables joining at select tournaments. Hall-of-Famer Judy Rankin will return as lead analyst, joining one of three play-by-play hosts that includes Terry Gannon, Whit Watson and LPGA mainstay Tom Abbott, who will serve as a hole announcer when not calling play by play. The on-course reporting team will include Jerry Foltz, Val Skinner, Kay Cockerill and Kelli Kuehne. Curt Byrum, who has been a regular for both PGA TOUR and Champions Tour telecasts on Golf Channel, will make his LPGA Tour debut at selected tournaments not attended by Rankin.

Golf Channel aired live coverage of the final round of the season-opening ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in February where Jiyai Shin battled 15 year-old amateur Lydia Ko and Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng for her 11th career victory. The tour also will expand its global reach with the addition of two new international television markets and will have broadcasts in Myanmar and New Zealand for the first time.

About Golf Channel
Golf Channel is a multimedia, golf entertainment and services company based in Orlando, Fla. The Golf Channel cable network, co-founded by Arnold Palmer in 1995 and part of the NBC Sports Group, is available in more than 120 million homes worldwide through cable, satellite and wireless companies. Exclusive partnerships with the world’s top tours allow Golf Channel to feature more live golf coverage than all other networks combined, added to a programming schedule distinguished by golf’s best news, instruction and original programming. Golf Channel’s digital platform of businesses is led by www.GolfChannel.com, a leading golf destination on the Internet, delivering unmatched coverage of the world of golf, as well as services that help the recreational player with how to play, what to play and where to play golf. Social conversation can be found at www.facebook.com/GolfChannel or www.twitter.com/GolfChannel.

About the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association)
The LPGA is the world’s leading professional golf organization for women. Founded in 1950, the association celebrates a diverse and storied membership with more than 1,700 members representing 29 different countries. With a Vision to inspire, empower, educate and entertain by showcasing the very best of women’s golf, LPGA Tour Professionals compete across the globe, while dedicated LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals (T&CP) directly impact the game through teaching, coaching and management. The Symetra Tour consistently produces a pipeline of talent ready for the world stage. The LPGA is headquartered in Daytona Beach, Florida. Follow the LPGA on its television home, Golf Channel, and on the web via: www.LPGA.com, www.facebook.com/lpga.official, www.twitter.com/lpga, and www.youtube.com/lpgavideo.

Media contacts:
Kraig Kann, LPGA Chief Communications Officer, kraig.kann@lpga.com; +1 386-274-6260