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PGA TOUR MEDIA CONFERENCE
January 11, 2006
BOB COMBS: Thank you very much, and a warm welcome to all the media from around the country that are joined in for today's teleconference, especially welcome to a number of media out at our tournament, the Sony Open in Hawaii. Today's speakers for the press conference include PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem; Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports; Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports and Olympics; and David Manougian, president of the Golf Channel. To lead off with our announcement let me turn it over to Commissioner Finchem.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Thank you everyone for joining us today. We are today making our announcements related to our long-term television agreements, which, as you know, will begin in 2007. Those agreements will be with CBS and NBC Television Networks and The Golf Channel. Let me start on the network side by telling you that with CBS and NBC, we have entered into six-year commitments which will make CBS and NBC the exclusive network carriers of our weekend coverage of the PGA TOUR FedEx Cup competition, and that will last through 2012. In doing so, on the CBS portion of that programming, CBS will expand its current coverage position. CBS has been our largest carrier the last few years, and they will move from an average of 16 events a year to now an average of 20 events a year, including the majority of the West Coast, a strong run through our spring and summer schedule. As Bob mentioned, I think we will not be announcing the specific schedule today, but I will reference some parts of the schedule from time to time to give you a flavor of our programming arrangements. With regard to CBS, CBS will include the Buick Invitational in San Diego and the Nissan LA Open as part of its early West Coast coverage; they will continue the coverage of the World Golf Championship in Akron, now known as the Bridgestone Invitational, in August; and they will cover the final event of the qualifying in the FedEx Cup competition, which is the event to be scheduled the week after the PGA Championship, which they carry, and that event will determine the seeding for the four-event Championship Series; and CBS will cover the first event of that Championship Series, as well. That will be the Championship Series which culminates the FedEx Cup season. With regard to NBC, NBC will double its weekend coverage to ten events, adding three of the four Championship Series events. They will conclude the FedEx Cup season and two World Golf Championship events. Included, they will cover THE PLAYERS Championship, will continue to cover THE PLAYERS Championship, which will now move to May, and I'll have more to say about that in a moment; the World Golf Championship Accenture Match Play Championship in late February; a new World Golf Championship event, a newly structured World Golf Championship event, which I'll mention again in a moment; and then continued coverage of the Presidents Cup. On the cable side, through an unprecedented 15-year long-term strategic partnership, The Golf Channel will become the exclusive cable network provider of our early-round coverage throughout our season, plus four-round event coverage of our fall series and four-round coverage of our first three PGA TOUR events. That includes the Mercedes Championships, currently played in Hawaii, just concluded this past Sunday; the Sony Open in Hawaii, being played this week; and in addition to that, the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. In regard to the strategic partnership, we are excited about our relationship with Comcast and the resources Comcast has committed to put behind this partnership. We are delighted with this long-term relationship with the Golf Channel and the ability to bring the continuity to our early rounds, which we think helps our platform. I'll talk about that more in a minute. On the programming side of the equation, if I could just step back and make a few comments about -- I could go on and on, but let me make just four or five comments about why we are particularly excited about the structure of these partnerships. Number one is that we have a streamlined set of relationships with NBC and CBS having all the weekends. It really relaxes and reinforces the continuity we can now provide to our fans. On the cable side with our Thursday and Friday coverage every week of the year with the Golf Channel, it really changes the dynamic of being able to set up our weekend coverage with the combination of our cable coverage leading into our network coverage. Number two, we think these new packages will help capture or are structured to capture in essence the way we have proposed the new FedEx Competition, especially the way we have the strong finish with NBC with the last three events leading into the start of the Championship Series with CBS. Number three is THE PLAYERS Championship. In moving THE PLAYERS Championship to the second week in May, we think it positions THE PLAYERS for maximum impact and fan interest. NBC will continue that broadcast, and in its new format, the broadcast will have limited commercial interruptions, and our sponsors or advertisers will be restricted to our three proud partners. The enhanced television coverage includes six hours of airtimes on Thursday and Friday on The Golf Channel, on each of Thursday and Friday on The Golf Channel, and now because of daylight, later air times on Saturday and Sunday on NBC from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The combination of those two things allows us to really elevate the impact of the telecast of our flagship event. In addition to that, as many of you know, this television package comes on the heels of our announcement of a total renovation of our clubhouse, fan enhancements and the golf course. Number four is that with respect to our World Golf Championships, in moving THE PLAYERS Championship to May, we will insert in that fourth week in March what is currently the American Express Championships. The American Express Championships will be played this year at The Grove in London. American Express will be departing as the sponsor of that WGC and will be replaced by CA, formerly Computer Associates. So the CA Championship will be the new World Golf Championship to be played at Doral the fourth week in March. A combination of that Championship with the rest of our strong March package means that that period of our season will continue to perform, we think, quite well. In addition to those things, on the cable side, I think I should point out that the Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour programming have been extended coterminously to a 15-year arrangement with the Golf Channel, as well. So in a nutshell, that's our programming situation, and we are very excited about the way it came out. On the financial side, I would say, first of all, preliminarily, we do not and have not in the past released specific rights fee information with respect to our television arrangements. It has been the case four years ago and eight years ago, and that's just the way we do it. However, there are four different ways that we think are important to look at how the overall financial structure of these arrangements will impact the Tour going forward. Four different metrics. One is more of a general metric, which is that we think the streamlined presence of our television in providing the continuity it does will benefit all constituents and will deliver more value to our sponsors. In delivering that value to our sponsors, it will have eventually an impact on the overall financial performance of the Tour, and importantly to our tournaments, and I'll come back to that in a minute. The second thing we looked at is how we can grow financial benefits to the players. We are now comfortable in projecting, because of these agreements and the rest of our businesses, that if we go out and look the next six years, 2007 to 2012, we can project approximately a $600 million increase over that period in player benefits, including prize money and retirement plan contributions. That would equate to a 35 percent increase over the current six years. Thirdly, I think we can now say with reasonable certainty that we can reach the second billion dollar level in the eight-to nine-year period. It took us 67 years working with our tournaments to get to the first billion, which we passed in 2005, and with our financial future intact and the kind of sponsorship we're attracting, we are now comfortable in saying that in that 2013 period, we should be able to hit the second billion dollar level. Lastly and importantly, our financial strength will allow us now to continue to enhance the kinds of things we invest in that impact the performance of our tournaments, whether it be on-site fan experiences or on-site fan communication. All of these things we think will lend themselves to a stronger Tour in the years to come. Let me just conclude by saying that we are absolutely delighted with the results of these negotiations. We think these partnerships put us in good stead for the future, and I want to thank all of the gentlemen on the telephone and their respective teams for the confidence that they have placed in the sport, the PGA TOUR, and our future in making the commitments they've made. With that I'll kick it back to Bob.
BOB COMBS: Thank you, Tim, for your comments, and we will now hear in turn from each of the leaders from our television partners. To begin with, Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports and Olympics. Why don't you take it away.
DICK EBERSOL: Well, we're absolutely delighted with our new relationship with the Tour for a variety of reasons. It's a good, responsible and profitable deal for NBC. It obviously is going to do great things for the Tour. We're particularly thrilled with the upscale nature of the events we've picked up, including the three season-ending Championship Series events, including the TOUR Championship, two of the three World Golf Championship events, and obviously our continued association with the Players Championship has been assured as it moves to May. We're particularly looking forward to this new limited commercial interruption format that they will have on that event, not unlike what goes on right now with Augusta National for The Masters. I'm particularly eager to exclusively share this on a network basis with CBS. I think these two organizations over the last 25 years have set the standard for golf production on television, CBS with their legendary Frank Chirkinian and Lance Barrow who do a special job of covering golf, and our Tommy Roy is just about unsurpassed as a producer of any golf event when it comes to the way he produces golf on our network. Finally, two points: One, the relationship with the Tour is established with the Golf Channel, which I feel and believe is the day-to-day television bible of golf, I think will be good for all of us, further strengthening The Golf Channel and giving us continuity in one place for all of this cable PGA TOUR golf. And lastly, the two people who really did all the work at NBC throughout this entire thing, the architect of the deal from our standpoint, Ken Schanzer and John Miller of our organization. I'd like to thank them a lot.
BOB COMBS: Thank you very much, Dick, for that, and I know you have a time limitation. I hope you can join us for the Q & A if permitted, otherwise I know Ken Schanzer can be available, as well. We'll now hear from Sean McManus of CBS News and Sports for your perspective.
SEAN McMANUS: Thank you, Bob. I share Dick's enthusiasm for the overall deal and also his enthusiasm for the fact that now the golf marketplace is now two networks instead of three. In a world where we're all competing for advertising dollars and trying to maximize the revenue of our shows, I think streamlining the marketplace and only having two networks out there selling network golf I think will be good for everybody, including the networks, the Tour and also the advertisers. So I think that's one part of this deal that I think should be emphasized. When I sat down with Tim and started in very informal discussions a little more than a year ago about a possible extension of this deal, we at CBS really had a couple of goals: Number one, to maintain the leadership position with respect to the amount of PGA TOUR events we carry on a yearly basis, and as I said to Tim, if we could extend that and improve the schedule, that would just be a plus for us; and secondarily, to come up with a financial deal that made sense in a fiscally responsible way for both CBS and the Tour. I'm proud to say that we accomplished both of those goals. I think our schedule is better than it's been in the past. We kept the quality events we wanted to keep and in fact we upgraded our schedule. We are part of the West Coast Swing, which was very, very important to us. We upgraded that Swing. We maintained our position in the spring, and we have a good piece of the post-PGA Championship schedule, which was important to us, also. So I couldn't be happier from a financial standpoint and just as important from a programming standpoint. Golf as you know has always been part of the fabric of CBS Sports. We were determined to maintain our position and hopefully improve our position, which I think we've done, and the fact that we're in some ways partners with NBC, who I think produces golf as we do, with an enormous commitment both in terms of financial commitment and personnel commitment, and I think the quality of the coverage is going to be a lot more consistent than it's been in the past, and I think the fact that we too are in some ways partners in this is healthy for the industry and healthy for the business. I couldn't be happier, glad we got it under our belts. To finish, we echo what Dick said, also. One thing Tim and the Tour have always been focused on is making sure all the partners, whether it's the tournaments or the sponsors or the television networks, that all the partners are scheduled in this venture, and I think he's managed to take a lot of disparate parts, put them together and guarantee that we're all going to be scheduled for at least the next six years for us and 15 years for The Golf Channel.
BOB COMBS: Thank you, Sean. The third piece of the puzzle is obviously The Golf Channel. David Manougian of the Golf Channel, why don't we have your comments.
DAVID MANOUGIAN: Happy new year to everybody. We couldn't think of a better way to celebrate our upcoming 11th anniversary and begin our 12th year on the air than with this announcement. Being the long-term exclusive cable home for PGA TOUR golf, it's a significant step forward, and it continues to reinforce The Golf Channel's position as golf's home. We see this partnership as a way for us to continue our exclusive or dominant position, literally on every professional Tour here in the United States. Lastly, as we looked at the reasons that this made a lot of sense, and again, over the past maybe year to year and a half of Tim and I discussing it, one of the real underlying sentiments was that this type of long-term partnership could not only be good for The Golf Channel and good for the PGA TOUR, but we really believed it would be good for the game of golf, good for viewership and good for the fan base. When we look at having some 15 full-round events and every single early round event of the FedEx Cup season and beyond, we couldn't be more thrilled, and again, we think this just is right on strategy for us of reinforcing our position as golf's home, and we are just tremendously excited and can't wait for 2007 to get on with it.
BOB COMBS: Thank you, David. I think that we're in a position where we can open up the lines to questions from our media guests from around the country. I'll turn it over to the operator to begin this process. Questions can be directed to any of our speakers at any time. Go ahead with the Q & A, please.
Q. Tim, can you discuss a little bit of -- was there a bit of scrambling when ESPN pulled out, and how did that affect your negotiations with the Golf Channel?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, I don't think anybody pulled out of negotiations. We negotiated intensively with lots of different people. The complexion of negotiations at this level takes on different twists and turns, as has every one we've ever done. I wouldn't say there were any more or less twists and turns in this one than others. Where we came to the Golf Channel was that we had already determined going in that the Golf Channel was a candidate for some of our premier programming. I don't think we would have said that five years ago, given their distribution levels, but with the Champions Tour, Nationwide Tour and the commitment of Comcast, they've really built their distribution, and their distribution is headed north with or without our programming. But when we add the kinds of programming that we have in this relationship now with the best players in the world playing on a fairly consistent basis on The Golf Channel, it just creates a whole other dynamic in terms of the quality of their platform. When we started to focus on that possibility beyond just a portion of the programming to the notion that if we could create a continuity for our viewers, one of the problems we've had over the years is generating value for our sponsors on the early round side because it's been piecemeal, and at the same time providing continuity to our fans to be comfortable with where we are. Both of those things were solved by the combination of things that David and his people have brought to the table to provide very serious commitment to the programming side of our early rounds, and you add that to the four-round commitment that we've made and we see that platform being elevated to a point where it can generate very significant numbers. Today without our best players playing, there are 10 million core fans that visit The Golf Channel. We think those numbers are going to be significantly enhanced and give us the kind of promotional platform that will be very special. I think the other thing about it is the combination of these arrangements we think in the long-term when you look out in terms of what the television environment is going to be five or ten years from now, position us very nicely in that regard.
Q. I have two questions: Are there not markets that the Golf Channel doesn't reach right now, one; and secondly, for a tournament like Sony or even Bob Hope, if you negotiate with the title sponsor out four years, do you now have to go back and renegotiate if they thought they were going to be on a network or ESPN and are now going to be on The Golf Channel?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: The answer to the first question is there are pockets, and maybe David is better to follow up and give more detail. But the Golf Channel has pockets around the country with a distribution of approximately 70 million right now where they don't reach. We're well aware of that. We're partners with the Golf Channel on Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour programming. Those pockets are slowly but surely disappearing, and we are very comfortable with the projected growth pattern of distribution. And I would say this, the overlay throughout the country of reaching our fan base is very, very powerful. So we don't have any hesitation there. Again, I think as we've done this deal, we've looked at '07 and well beyond '07, not so much at '05 and early '06, and that world is rapidly changing. On the second question, I would say that we have, as I think you know, very strong sponsor structure today. We have been 100 percent sponsored throughout the last five years during a recession, during the post-9/11 environment, during a very difficult time in the television marketplace. We were 100 percent sponsored. We see no difficulty in maintaining sponsorships, and I think the continuity in our sponsorship base will continue.
Q. Can you be a little more specific on the limited commercial interruption at THE PLAYERS?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: We have three sponsors. You know, they have all the units or advertising units. The total number of advertising units is significantly reduced from normal levels. It will be -- what you will see is very similar to what you see at Augusta. We think The Masters is, from a viewer standpoint, the No. 1 best viewing experience for a fan. We think that THE PLAYERS Championship now will be right there along with it, and with this golf course and the kind of feel we have on this golf course, we think it's going to be a special time for the golf fan.
Q. They have four minutes an hour. Do you think that's what you'll be?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I think we'll be that or within 30 seconds of it.
Q. Tim, what can you say about the financials of this deal and how it compares to the previous one?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, I think I discussed that previously. You know, we have a total increase in our revenue from these arrangements, and we like to define those increases in terms of what it does for us. We have used those increases to do our long-term projection for our players, which lays out a framework where we will increase by about 35 percent over six years our total benefits to players, which translates to about $100 million a year increase.
Q. Is that for the sixth year of the deal or over the average of the deal?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: That's the annual average of the six years. So if you take all of the increase and add it up for six years and compare it to this year, it would be a $600 million increase.
Q. And that's compared to the final year of the expired deal or the average of the expired deal?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: The average -- if you take the current six-year arrangement ending in '06 and you add up all of the financial benefits and retirement plans and purses going to players and you take the next six years, the next six years will be $600 million north of this six years.
Q. And that's just in terms of what's going to players, or is that -- are you talking about the total value of the deal?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: No, that's just the money that's going to players in either purses, the money they play for week in and week out and retirement plan contributions, the money we put into their retirement accounts. Those two numbers will increase in total over '07 to '12 $600 million over '01 to '06.
Q. Is that the same as the amount of increase of the actual payment by the networks?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: No, not necessarily. I think it's fair to say that the purse level increases year to year will not be as steep in the next six years as they have been the last six years. Our retirement benefits for various reasons that have to do with the FedEx Cup, et cetera, our retirement benefits will actually go up a little more steeply, but our purses will increase every year, but they won't be as steep of increases in the next six years. They will flatten a little bit.
Q. Can you say what the increases are in terms of the actual rights fees?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: No, I've already answered that question. We don't release detailed rights fee information. We've never done it before and we're not going to do it this year.
DICK EBERSOL: By my math right now, four different questions have tried to get you to tell them what the actual television rights fees are, and I just want to cheer you on, don't tell them.
Q. Tim, I wonder if you could expand a little bit more on -- I know you haven't announced it, but a general idea of what the schedule is going to look like? What events are going to be in that FedEx Cup Series and how much of a restructuring of the schedule, aside from THE PLAYERS Championship, are we going to see?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, I don't know how I can do it generally without getting into details. I would just say that we are hard at work on the schedule. It's basically locked in now. We have some individual conversations with tournaments. We will conclude that in the next few days and we will give you the details on the schedule within the next week. There will be some movement in the schedule. There will be some tournaments moving around during the year. There will be a few adjustments. But to characterize it beyond that we don't think would serve much purpose right now.
Q. I was just wondering, you mentioned the deal with the Golf Channel provides viewer continuity. But aside from that, is there any advantage for having such a long deal? And then secondly, does your deal also provide an opportunity for some events to migrate to the OLN later on?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Let's see, the first part of your question is there's a range of benefits in our new arrangement with David. There is very significant differentiation in the programming flexibility of the Golf Channel. To put the best programming, the programming that can generate the most interest effectively in front of the fan base at times when they can see it. The Golf Channel is a 24/7 service, it can show our stuff at night, it can show stuff in prime time, it can replay at night, it can do all those things. It can generate more value for our sponsors and more total viewership, which total viewership is a very important thing in our business, in our sport, much more I think than other sports. We look at how many viewers we reached total through the course of a tournament. That's what our sponsors look at. As a consequence we're less driven by average ratings in any particular day part. So those things, The Golf Channel brings a lot. In terms of a long-term arrangement, it's a combination of looking at the current strength of the platform, the strength of the platform that we foresee in this partnership with our programming and their capabilities in the next three, four, five years, and then the reason for 15 years is that it sets the table for us to put our position in -- to protect our position in the long-term as the television marketplace continues to evolve. So for all those reasons, we thought long-term strategic partnership was very important, and there are elements on the partnership side that we're excited about in terms of our two companies working closely together, as we will on the network side with CBS and NBC. What was the second part of your question?
Q. I'm just wondering does this current agreement with Comcast give you some flexibility to migrate tournaments to OLN later on?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: David may want to jump in here. We have an understanding about how -- perhaps not limited to OLN but how programming could move to other elements of the Comcast platform in certain situations, yes. We anticipate our programming package to be essentially a Golf Channel carried product.
Q. But some programming there are options?
DAVID MANOUGIAN: I'd like to echo what Tim said. When you look at the breadth and the amount of product that will be on the Channel, there will be certain weeks where if there are airtime conflicts or replay conflicts, being part of the Comcast umbrella will allow us to utilize an OLN to relieve the pressure on our schedule. But that's kind of really the role of that versus strategically placing the events there. This arrangement is primarily and foremost to put as much great product as possible on The Golf Channel.
Q. Sean and Ken, if you're there, I'm just kind of curious to see how this new Tour schedule, how it impacted your view as far as golf and your feelings about whether you're going to see more marquee players play in more events at the same time?
SEAN McMANUS: I think taken in the overall context, what Tim tried to accomplish, I think he accomplished a lot of his goals. The shortening of the network schedule, which basically goes now January through the end of September, I think takes a fair amount of inventory out of the network marketplace, which is healthy for CBS and NBC. I think the fact that the schedule is more condensed I hope will result in more of the big-name players playing in more of the events that we and NBC will carry. I think the season is really defined with a beginning, a middle and an end. Sports fans are used to playoffs and used to exciting culminations that sometimes last more than one event like the football playoffs or the World Series, the baseball playoffs. The fact that Tim has been able to accomplish all those goals I think is one of the reasons why we were as enthusiastic and as aggressive to renew our position with the Tour as we were. I couldn't be happier with the way the schedule is now broken out, and I think, again, it's good for everybody involved in the sport of golf, including the players. I think it's a really, really good schedule and a much more manageable one for the networks.
KEN SCHANZER: If you simply look through the events that we've added to the schedule, every single one of them portends a quality field. So when we went into this negotiation, we were more than prepared to expand our golf presence, but we wanted to do so only if it reached two objectives; one, if it could be done on a financially responsible basis; and second, if the events we were acquiring were going to have quality fields. In looking at it inversely, Tim's schedule has certainly provided for us to get events, all of which, every single one of the events, has a field that looks to be full of all of the best golfers. So it worked for us. I think Sean's point about the marketplace is the third most critical point, so I think it will tighten the marketplace, make it more profitable and give us really quality fields, and I think that's going to help our numbers, as well.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: We mentioned the quality of the events week to week. When we do announce the schedule in the next few days, I think you'll see week in and week out that there are a significant number of weeks where we've improved the quality of the tournaments for a variety of different reasons. The way the schedule flows is going to be one that works from a player scheduling standpoint, and given the enthusiasm of the players over the FedEx Cup, the combination of those two things is I think going to generate a nice increase in the quality of our fields.
Q. Commissioner, with Doral moving to the end of March, are you in a position to say what the rest of the Florida Swing might look like?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Not just yet. We are done with it, but we have some protocol work to do. As I said, as is the case in a lot of the elements of the schedule, we will be getting all that out in the next few days, and I think when you look at it you'll be very pleased in terms of how Florida sets up.
Q. Second of all, what prompted the Tour and I suppose its partners to choose Doral for the World Golf Championships event?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: A combination of things, some smaller in significance, I suppose. I think probably the driving -- it's been a good tournament structure, we have good partners down there, it obviously is a major market in the United States, all of those factors. I think one of the driving -- perhaps the leading thing was we have a feeling that having virtually all the best players in the world playing on that golf course is pretty exciting. We loved the match-up with Tiger and Phil. I think it demonstrated what can happen on that golf course and the way that golf course is laid out when you put players of that quality there on a consistent basis. So from the standpoint of the overall impact of the World Golf Championships, we thought it was a really good fit. There were other small reasons, but I'd have to say that was the driving force.
Q. Tim, just another FedEx Cup question. There were some details to be ironed out regarding venues for some of those events. Where does that stand, and what factor, if any, did it have in the television negotiations?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, there are a number of venue changes. I think that our objective here was to make the schedule better and then make every tournament on the schedule better. And when you address the second, you have to address venues, the quality of golf courses, the infrastructure available to you at certain places to play, et cetera, and to some extent the markets we play in. It's not perfect; we still have a few things to do over the next few years, but I think we made some nice moves in the schedule to follow a strategy that says, you know, if it's going to be a tournament on the PGA TOUR, it needs to have the potential to be an excellent tournament and venue that plays into that. As we lay out the schedule, most of it next week, some of it later on, we'll be giving you all that detail.
Q. The timetable is for a week or so you said?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: On the schedule per se, next week. There will be a couple elements of the schedule where the venues will be laid out a little bit later.
Q. The other question had to do with the FedEx events in terms of fields. Is there any sort of loophole at all for marquee players to skip an event in the FedEx Series and still be eligible for the FedEx Cup?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, the FedEx Cup starts January 1.
Q. I'm talking about the four --
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Sorry, the playoff events, the Championship Series, they're not required to play. But the mathematics are such that if you're going to compete in the Cup competition, there's a very significant upside, certainly if you're a consistent top player, to perform well just like you are within a tournament structure. So that is a dynamic, and the fact that the way the point structure for this series will be structured almost dictates that if you're going to perform well, you've got to play every week. We couple that with what we already know, because we haven't gone off and done this in a closet, we've done it in close cooperation working with all of our players and all the top players who have been heavily involved in the discussions about what we're doing here. We know their attitude toward this development and their enthusiasm toward the Cup. You add that all together and we feel very comfortable with players playing. In addition to that, I should say that for the very top players, players who have business challenges and time demands on top of playing, there are top-50 players, that they have the benefit of knowing that they have more flexibility in the fall, although we anticipate a lot of them will still play in the fall. They, I think, will play more total events during the base season, the FedEx Cup season, and part of that will be playing those Championship Series events.
Q. Just to clarify because I don't think it was clear before, regarding the Championship Series events, the four events, are some of those venues not hammered down yet?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Correct. Some of them are -- none of them have been announced with any certainty yet in final form. We have a number of them nailed down. We have a couple others we're talking to, and we're going to hold off and probably announce all of them together.
Q. Tim, I wanted to ask you a question quickly about THE PLAYERS Championship, it being moved to May. Now that it's official, I'm just wondering from your perspective what that will do for the tournament? Was one of the forces to get it away from The Masters?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, we think it's a plus to position THE PLAYERS in a manner that it sort of flows with the Masters being in April and THE PLAYERS in May and the Open in June, et cetera. It actually wasn't as big a factor as we felt five years ago. Five years ago we felt it was pretty important to not be that close to the Masters. But it's a lesser problem today than it was then. I mean, THE PLAYERS got much bigger in the last five years. However, it's still a positive. I think the bigger reasons had to do with weather, daylight, the ability to have drier conditions, get the golf course set up the way we want to, a better fan experience in May, a better experience for sponsors. And with daylight comes more flexibility with television, and as a consequence, our television performance will be superior in May, et cetera. So there were a lot of factors. We think that those factors are met, those issues are met when we go ahead and move to May and couple with the other things that are going on with THE PLAYERS, headlined by the television package. We know that THE PLAYERS is going to take a significant step up beginning in '07.
Q. I've got a couple. Would you have come close to realizing the financial take here if you had trotted out the same old schedule that you've had the last ten or so years?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I think it would be much more challenging. I think that there was plenty of challenge here. I just want to restate that the commitment that these three partners are making to us over a long period of time is a real testament to their faith in what the sport is. They did provide us the ability to grow on a reasonable basis. There were a lot of factors. I do believe that it was very helpful to be able to impact the marketplace with the schedule to improve the organizational structure of the Tour from a presentation standpoint with the FedEx Cup, and there were other things we did in terms of the business model, the tournaments, the sponsors, that impacted on the ability of our partners to make this commitment, knowing that it's a sound business judgment and a sound business commitment. So there was a lot of work the last couple of years to get there. But I do think those changes were important.
Q. Why six years with the networks instead of four?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: A couple of reasons: One, we felt like at this point in time to give the restructure some time, that is, the FedEx Cup, the new approach, the new season, we really wanted that extra continuity without having to maybe get back into a negotiation in a few years and restructuring it. The more important reason, however, was that we now know what our television future is for a good number of years, and that allows us to shift the organizational emphasis here and the emphasis of resources against the need to really work at improving our product. We have a wonderful group of tournaments. They do a great job for charity; they've gotten better every year. But we are not persuaded that we have done everything that we can and should do to improve the competitiveness of our product. We look around, see the other sports investing literally hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in stadium and other features to attract and entertain fans, and we have to be competitive. We don't think we can invest those kind of dollars, but what we can do is work closely with our tournaments to improve the fan experience, work closely with our players to improve the way we present ourselves, work on our venues and our golf courses, and by having longer-term agreements, it really allows us to shift more emphasis to those kinds of things, and that's what we intend to do.
BOB COMBS: I'll make some summary comments and offer some follow-up suggestions. First of all, thank you to our participants, to Sean McManus of CBS, to Dick Ebersol and also now Ken Schanzer of NBC and David Manougian of the Golf Channel. There are a number of ways for the media to follow up. Our press release summarizing these announcements is out now, it's available from our offices; today's teleconference will be archived on pgatour.com; the transcripts will be available shortly through us and through the ASAP Sports website; certainly here at the Tour we'll entertain some follow-up one-on-ones in the next hours and days, and I'm sure our television partners will, as well. We very much appreciate everybody's time and attention and interest in this series of announcements and we look forward to working with you on this announcement and the next steps as the Commissioner mentioned over the next several days. Thank you very much for joining us.
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