Fox Sports Pivoting Away From Golf

Gary Woodland
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Fox Sports and the USGA entered into what was supposed to be a $1.2 billion, 12-year year marriage. But like so many accords, things changed, the parties grew apart and in the end it made the most sense for everyone to cut bait and seek happiness elsewhere.

As first reported by the New York Post and the Associated Press, Fox asked for and was granted release from the accord with more than seven years remaining. The rights will shift over to NBC, which will produce the U.S. Open in September.

NBC previously aired the event from 1995-2014 before the massive new deal was struck, giving Joe Buck & Co. the reins in 2015. After some initial hiccups, Fox's golf coverage grew to a place where it was different -- but good different. Last year's broadcast from Pebble Beach was a sign of just how far things had come in five years.

One person said Fox was contemplating moving the U.S. Open to FS1, an idea that was rebuffed by Mike Davis, the CEO of the USGA. That led to deeper conversations about the contract and how it could be resolved.

NBC is reportedly paying nearly half the rights fees, meaning Fox won't be on the hook when they're not getting production a la the Mets and Bobby Bonilla. All things considered, this is a fairly amicable split, which could emerge as a win-win-win in Michael Scott's business chart.

Fox will get to focus on its meat and potatoes. NBC gets a marquee event to put early action on Golf Channel, not to mention the women's U.S. Open. Viewers may get a greater sense of continuity. It's okay to be optimistic about stuff, right?

Industry-wide, there are whispers of a larger trend as those with fall conflicts are looking to highlight their true moneymakers. We have already seen Turner opting out of its Champions League deal. The financial burdens outlets are facing right now are unprecedented, as is the juggling for sports' return. With such uncertain sands underfoot, it shouldn't be surprising to see a few more dramatic shifts in the wild world of television rights.