NBC Sports will begin using The Golf Channel brand on its PGA Tour coverage beginning this weekend.
Starting with this weekend’s coverage of the Accenture Match Play Championship, NBC will “use Golf Channel’s graphics, leaderboard and logos” during its PGA Tour coverage, which will now be called The Golf Channel on NBC (sportsbusinessdaily.com, 2/21/11).
The NBC and Golf Channel logos will appear together in the corner of the screen.
On its face, the move seems to run in contrast to the general trend since the Comcast/NBC merger became official. When it comes to sports, NBC has exerted much more influence than Comcast, with NBC personnel replacing Versus and The Golf Channel executives and on-air personalities.
However, if one looks at the moves from the standpoint of which brands are strongest, there is little inconsistency. The NBC Sports brand is far stronger than anything Comcast had to offer, which explains the heavy NBC influence over Comcast’s sports properties.
But when it comes to golf specifically, The Golf Channel is arguably a stronger brand than NBC Sports. Former NBC exec and current Golf Channel president Mike McCarley to Sports Business Daily: “A lot of NBC Sports has been defined by golf over the years, and to take the Golf Channel brand and put it front and center on NBC is a testament to the brand Golf Channel has become.”
Of course, branding may not be the only issue. It may very well be less expensive and more efficient to have the same on-air look for both NBC and The Golf Channel than to provide two distinct broadcasts.
Though McCarley denied that the move was an “attempt to achieve cost efficiencies,” it would be hard to believe that such a benefit would not have been at least a consideration.
For viewers, the move results in one less unique approach to covering golf. The question becomes whether NBC and The Golf Channel will do a better job by combining forces than they’ve done individually.