Discovery’s Netflix-Like Golf Service Will Get European Tour

(Bloomberg) -- Discovery Inc. acquired the broadcast rights to professional golf in Europe, giving it more ammunition for a Netflix-like video service aimed at diehard fans of the sport.

The deal lets Discovery show more than 40 European Tour events over the next four years -- as well as the next two Ryder Cups -- on GolfTV, a streaming service that debuts in January. Terms weren’t disclosed.

The addition of European tournaments could bring in more subscribers to GolfTV. The latest agreement comes on the heels of Discovery’s recent signing of Tiger Woods to give the star athlete a dedicated channel on the service. Discovery also made a $2 billion deal for long-term international rights to the PGA Tour -- the U.S.-based men’s golf circuit.

“This fills out our golf strategy,” Discovery Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav said in an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. “From Thursday through Sunday, we almost have 24 hours of golf coverage. If you love golf, we have lots of it.”

The streaming golf service is part of Discovery’s strategy of owning sports rights and reality programming and selling it around the world. Owning those rights could lead to deals with tech giants or mobile-phone carriers that want that content for their platforms, Zaslav said.

Chinese Push

The CEO said Discovery also is talking to Chinese companies about partnering with them to distribute GolfTV in China, a market that U.S. companies have struggled to reach.

Zaslav said his goal in three years is to get between 3 million and 5 million subscribers paying for GolfTV and eventually as many as 25 million. Discovery hasn’t disclosed the price of the service.

While known for unscripted programming like “Shark Week,” Discovery is trying to become a leader in global sports broadcasting. It has acquired a trove of TV sports licenses, including the European rights to the Olympics through 2024 for $1.4 billion.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.