AP Golf Writer
Golf Channel has a new 10-year deal with the European Tour to show all of its tournaments through 2024.
The contract renewal was announced Wednesday before the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland, one of the top events in Europe and popular with an American audience because it is held at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarn and patterned after the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
"It's the first partner that Golf Channel ever had. It will be 20 years next year, and this current deal takes it to three decades," Golf Channel President Mike McCarley said. "It's a good working relationship. There's been a lot of back-and-forth in collaborating on what can make the broadcast better, what we can do from an American television point of view that helps make the product more interesting and more compelling."
The Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, which Phil Mickelson won in a playoff, was shown by Golf Channel on NBC. It was the first regular European Tour event to be aired live on network television in the United States.
Golf Channel said viewership of the European Tour in America is headed for a record this year, and it has increased 60 percent since Golf Channel joined the NBC Sports Group in 2011. McCarley attributed that increase to cross-promotion on NBC on the weekend.
"We have had an exceptionally strong association with Golf Channel since its inception 18 years ago," European Tour chief executive George O'Grady said in a statement.
He said the 10-year extension showed the broad appeal of the European Tour with "immense talent being discovered in all of the countries where our tournaments take place."
The first European Tour event shown on Golf Channel was the Dubai Desert Classic in 1995 won by Fred Couples.
Tiger Woods is to play Dubai this year, while Europe's top stars, such as Rory McIlroy, typically open the Middle East swing in Abu Dhabi.
Golf Channel recently began sending a reporter to some of the top European Tour events, such as the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
"We're working on a couple of ideas where we can cover things a little differently and innovate," McCarley said. "The last few years we've taken a much more active role in collaborating with the European Tour on their premier events to make for better viewing in the United States. George and I have had good conversations. They're very open."
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