USGA CEO responds to NBC and US Open commercial outrage

USGA CEO Mike Wan tweeted in response to criticism the board has received about the open business burden in the United States.

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Brooklyn, MA – Lots of tweets in the void.

After NBC’s Saturday broadcast of the US Open Send golf Twitter into a frenzythe USGA CEO took Sunday morning to respond immediately.

“I’m on it!” Mike Wan wrote from his official account, in response to hundreds of posts from fans who felt that the US Open broadcast showed too many commercials. “We have the best sports production team in the world here with our partner NBC Sports (the Olympics, Super Bowl, etc.) and if the amount of interruptions is an issue, we’ll work with our partner to do even better.”

The response represents a surprising departure from the norm for governing bodies, which rarely publicly address criticism of the golf television producer. Wan who is In his first American championship As the acting USGA president, he posted his response Sunday morning, hours after NBC’s third-round broadcast went off the air.

“There are more TV viewers here than the Super Bowl (right!) so we/USGA are going to free them up to do what they do better than anyone else,” Wan said. “The US Open was great and we’re going to make 2023 at LACC even better!”

Wan’s comments shouldn’t come as a surprise to NBC. According to multiple sources, stakeholders from both the USGA and NBC held talks Saturday to address the social media reaction to the broadcast, specifically regarding the commercial campaign.

Advertising revenue is the most important part of any TV rights deal, especially with regards to NBC’s deal with the USGA. In 2022, NBC entered the second year of its approved agreement with the USGA – an agreement that was formed after the network purchased the second half of Giant USGA deal for FOX. While the financial details of the re-brokered NBC deal with the USGA are not public information, it is believed to pay a significant portion of the $93 million annually negotiated price by FOX.

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James Colgan

For NBC, that number points to a significant financial shortfall from the economics of “normal” golf broadcasting, meaning the network would have to sell more ads than a normal week just to break even. Add to that the US Open also gets the most advertisers’ attention of any USGA event, and suddenly Saturday afternoon’s events start to make a little more sense.

It should also be noted that from a commercial load perspective, Brookline is not significantly different from any other US Open. A source on NBC confirmed that Saturday’s commercial load at the US Open was no higher than in previous years. The surge in advertisements in the late afternoon was due to a range of editorial decisions made by the NBC production team, specifically in order to avoid missing important moments in the early afternoon.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you, as a fan, have to like it. Commercials distract from the viewing experience, making the event more difficult to follow and more importantly to enjoy. In golf’s biggest events, this is (justified) a cause for frustration.

For those caught up in business, though, there’s at least some good news: Your complaint has been heard. Both parties seem invested in finding a solution to provide golf enthusiasts with better streaming in the coming years. There is reason for optimism in the short term, too. As usual, Rolex will sponsor the last hour of Sunday’s broadcast, which will be broadcast to the public free of charge.

James Colgan Editor

James Colgan is Associate Editor at GOLF, and contributes stories to the site and magazine on a wide range of topics. Hot Mic writes GOLF’s weekly media column, and uses his expertise in broadcasting across social media and the brand’s video platforms. A 2019 Syracuse University graduate, James — and his golf obviously — has been melting in the snow for four years, during which time he cut his teeth at NFL Films, CBS News and Fox Sports. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a scholarship holder (and a smart looper) in Long Island, where he belongs.