Tiger Woods Hired by Discovery to Boost Its ‘Netflix for Golf’

(Bloomberg) -- Discovery Inc., the U.S. media company that’s become a global player in sports, has struck a deal with Tiger Woods to give the star athlete a dedicated channel on its Netflix-like golf service.

Armed with exclusive videos featuring the greatest golfer of his generation, Discovery could drive more subscriptions to GolfTV, a streaming-video service that debuts in January and is being developed by Discovery and the PGA Tour.

Woods will appear in a variety of programming for the service, including instructional videos and behind-the-scenes footage showing how he prepares for tournaments. The 42-year-old will get a cut of the subscription revenue from GolfTV, which will also broadcast live tournaments.

While known for unscripted programming like “Shark Week,” Discovery has been focused on becoming 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.

The deal is the latest sign that Woods, long one of the most guarded athletes in the world, is opening up more in the twilight of his career. On Friday, Woods faced off against Phil Mickelson in a pay-per-view golf duel in which the players took the rare step of wearing microphones on the course. Woods lost the match and the event was marred by a technical glitch processing customers’ online payments, forcing distributors to make it free to watch.

Ratings Draw

While the number of Americans playing golf has been declining, Woods remains a massive TV ratings draw after returning to the tour this past year following his fourth back surgery. The final round of the Tour Championship in September -- in which Woods won his first tournament in more than five years -- more than tripled its audience from last year.

In June, Discovery agreed to pay $2 billion for long-term international TV rights to the PGA Tour. The 12-year deal includes TV and online rights to the U.S.-based men’s golf circuit and the development of the streaming video service where Woods will be featured.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.