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September 1, 2011
JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome everyone to today's announcement here at the Deutsche Bank Championship. We'd like to welcome PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem, and we're joined on the phone by CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus and also NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus.
TIM FINCHEM: Good afternoon, everybody. Thanks for being here. We're delighted to share with you in the next few minutes an outline of extensions we've done with our broadcast partners, CBS and NBC. I'll just start by mentioning that these are for us long-term extensions. In the case of both CBS and NBC, our new agreements are for us an unprecedented nine years, extending through 2021, and this effectively, with the last year of our current agreement next year, means that our television rights are secured and our broadcast partnerships are secured for the next ten years.
It also means that our broadcast rights now coincide with the term of our rights exclusive to The Golf Channel on the cable area that began in 2007.
Before I go on, I just want to say if you go back to 2005 when we negotiated our current agreements, we made a decision at that time that it was in the best overall interests of the TOUR and our television partners to go to a system where we had two broadcast partners partnering with a third party cable operator, in this case The Golf Channel, and that model has worked exceedingly well since 2007 in our view, both from the standpoint of the production quality that these three partners have employed to bring our sport to the fans here and around the globe, and also in the marketplace with the coordination we've had from a sales standpoint, a positive interface with our sponsors, et cetera. So that model, as we went into a time when we needed to renew our agreements, was the model we wanted to continue.
We also determined that we wanted to continue with these two broadcast partners because in both the cases of CBS and NBC, they have become exceptional partners in all areas and has resulted in more value to them, more value to our players, et cetera.
Based on that, I'm delighted to say today that both CBS and NBC will continue their packages. CBS will continue broadcasting approximately on average 20 events a year and a total of 130 hours of live weekend coverage. NBC will continue to broadcast around ten events a year with more than 75 hours of live coverage.
I want to thank in particular CBS president Sean McManus, president of sports, and NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus, and all their teams who have spent enormous effort in the last couple of months and actually over the last year or two in the preparation for, and then the last couple of months the conduct of these discussions. And I want to thank them for the confidence that they have demonstrated historically in our sport and now with these agreements are going to place in us going forward.
Let me talk a little bit about and give you an overview if I could about the terms of the arrangement, and then I know that both Mark and Sean are on the phone, and when I've finished I'll turn it over to them for some comments and then answer your questions.
I think the three takeaways from these agreements really are, first and foremost, the term itself and what that means; secondly, that they provide for growth and stability of our sport, and I'll talk about why that's important; and third, they provide for a framework of innovation, when we talk about a lot of the digital rights and how they'll be employed, and I'll talk a little bit about each of these.
First of all, the term: The term is important to us on a number of levels, and I'll mention three. One, syncing it back up with the Golf Channel rights gets us back to where we've been historically with all of our television rights coming up at the same time, and it just makes it easier to flow and to plan; secondly, a ten-year window now, or runway, if you will, give our sponsors a lot of confidence in where the television side of the sport is going to be, and that helps us in terms of creating value for our sponsors, maintaining continuity with our sponsors and extending our sponsors into the future; third, from a tournament standpoint and a PGA TOUR standpoint, it allows us greater flexibility to focus on other long-term strategic issues without having to be concerned about disruption of partnership on the television side.
So those three things we think in and of themselves because of the length of the term provide us unique value and should allow us assistance in continuing to grow what we've been working on over the last couple of decades.
Secondly and importantly is the digital area. These agreements provide for a wide range -- let me do this in parts. First of all, they provide for a wide range of simulcast coverage on both various PGA TOUR platforms starting with pgatour.com, as well as those platforms that are synced with our partnerships, including cbssports.com, nbcsports.com and golfchannel.com. We will see the vast majority of our coverage one way or the other in simulcast form, which in and of itself assists our total viewership, and simulcast allows us to take into consideration the tremendous upsurge in content appetite that relates to tablets and smartphones and things that are going to grow significantly in the next five years.
Secondly, we will have additional coverage of a number of tournaments featuring coverage of marquee holes or competition highlights, regular updates from tournament sites, a variety of statistical information. This coverage is geared toward the increasing number of our fans who spend time in front of the broadcasts and also at the same time online enjoying the benefits of the ShotLink system or other applications.
And third, in partnership with NBC and The Golf Channel, we will be experimenting with additional live tournament coverage on The Golf Channel during the actual broadcast window. So while we'll be seeing stroke-to-stroke coverage on NBC, over on The Golf Channel we'll be seeing some unique coverage on various aspects of what's happening with unique and interesting pairings or significant pieces of the golf course or holes or things of that nature.
All of these things which are simulcast, as well, lend themselves to additional applications to mobile devices. It was just a few months ago, as you know, that we eliminated our restrictions on cell phones at tournaments, and we've found that that is a very manageable situation, that our fans are respectful of how to handle a cell phone on-site. But it does open up a communication conduit to the fan on-site, as well.
So we will be looking at using this significant, in fact fairly massive increase in digital simulcast activity that relates not just to the coverage but in other aspects to form applications for access by our fans, and we think in doing so, because we're partnering with our broadcast partners in these areas, it will generate more value to the broadcast carrier, it will generate more value to our sponsors because there are a variety of uses that tie into sponsorship, and it certainly will result in a much more robust way of programming and communication that's available to our fan base, as well.
So these developments we think are key to what's important about these announcements today.
The financial side of the equation: I think all of you have been around the PGA TOUR for some time know that historically we have not announced digital -- excuse me, details on rights arrangements, and we're not going to do that this time. However, we do provide a complete and actually more complete assessment of television revenues on an annual basis in our annual report, and we will be continuing to make that available to you.
I will say, and we'll say more with our players later this year and the first of next year in terms of what all this means in terms of a six-year, nine-year outlook, if you will, a five-year, ten-year plan as we get into the first quarter of next year. But just generally I will comment right now and say that first of all our rights are increasing; secondly, that those increases will help us in a number of areas: One, it will help us continue our process of growing financial benefit to our players, which is a big part of our mission; secondly, it will allow us the flexibility to invest in taking advantage of a number of the digital applications that are now going to be available to us to create a better one-to-one relationship with our fans; third, it will allow us to invest in things that help the overall presentation and promotion of all of our tournaments on the TOUR and our other tours; and lastly, on the charity side of the equation, while the vast majority of our charity dollars are raised at a tournament level, the stability that will be developed by these agreements that we're announcing today and the overall impact on our ability to take steps that support our charitable mission will be a very positive factor for that activity, and I think at this point we then can say without question that barring some significant economic downturn that we will reach the $2 billion mark of charitable giving in 2014. I think I can say with some confidence that we could reach the $3 billion level before the end of these agreements in 2011 (sic).
So we think the combination of the term, the overall resources, the innovation of digital will, in fact, play into value for our charitable partners at the tournament level, as well.
Lastly, and then I'll ask Sean and Laz to say a few things, I'd like to comment on why in my view we have worked successfully with our television partners to reach these agreements, and I think there's a number of reasons. One, we've got great partners with television. They're fantastic people to work with. They're great partners. They've worked well with us the last number of years as I indicated earlier. Secondly, the fans clearly have taken increasingly to the nature of our competition over the last couple years and in doing so have reinstilled confidence in our sport that might have been waning when our No. 1 player was not that active two of the last four years. But there is such tremendous buzz and focus on this juxtaposition of Tiger and Phil and other mature players and veteran players against this huge increase in young players who are coming forward and able to win tournaments at every level. We hear increasingly more and more from our fans about Dustin and Rickie and Keegan and Webb and Bubba and Graeme and Rory and on and on it seems, that has helped our ratings, stabilized our ratings, grown our ratings, has helped result in sponsor renewals, et cetera, and I think that is a major factor of why we are now at a point where we can look forward to ten years in growth.
Secondly, there is no question that during this downturn the last three years when there was an awful lot of pessimism, the companies that were partnering with us did more than just stick around; they extended well into the future. And by making that commitment I think they helped create a very positive climate for these discussions.
Third, I think there's a recognition that not just on the size of our fan base, 165 million Americans have tuned in somewhere along the way to our telecast this year, 81 million Americans are watching ten or more events a year, but a recognition that that fan base has a huge buying power, and if you measure it against any other sports fan base, NFL, MLB, NASCAR, you name it, we rank No. 1 in terms of the appetite for digital applications, the interest in digital applications, and the historical ability to pay for digital applications, for example, if you look at what's available at the cable television level today. And that recognition, again, a combination of the quality of the audience and that it's sticking with us from a viewership standpoint I think was very important.
Also, I think that generally speaking, the conduct of our tournaments and the participation with our players in providing real value to our sponsors and our charities has been a major factor.
To conclude I would just say that this unique partnership that is the PGA TOUR goes back many, many years but has grown -- is unique, and it here again has presented itself as a partnership that generates real value. If you look at the partnership of a group of athletes who are generally recognized and have the highest image of any group of athletes in the world, a group of sponsors who are very loyal, a group of dedicated fans partnering with our television partners, it is a unique partnership. It's one that works, and again, a group of tournaments that are organized for the purpose of helping other people.
I'm delighted, and lastly, I would just comment that my hat's off to our team who spent enormous hours over the last two or three years preparing for these discussions, and then a significant amount of time, 24/7 the last two or three months, they did a phenomenal job working with CBS and NBC teams to bring this to fruition.
I'd like the chairman of CBS Sports first, Sean McManus, to say a few words, and then Mark Lazarus to follow up and say a few words, and then we'll open it up to questions.
SEAN McMANUS: Thank you, Tim. I would echo pretty much everything you said. I would focus first of all on the word you used, which to me is maybe the most important word is the "partnership," not just on the marketing side of it, the way the TOUR has been so aggressive and so successful in delivering a robust group of corporate title sponsors, plus the season-long sponsor in FedEx, the way that the TOUR has been able to work with our sales team and deliver that revenue to us obviously is an important factor in this deal, and the overall partnership and cooperation, whether it's in the production or the access to the players or access to the TOUR is second to none among the relationships that we have. So I applaud, Tim, you and your team for that.
For over 50 years, golf, in particular the PGA TOUR, has been a really, really important part of CBS Sports. It's part of our heritage. We produce I believe it's over 150 hours a year of golf programming, not just the PGA TOUR, but of course the first major of the year, the Masters, and the last major of the year, the PGA Championship, so golf is really, really important to us.
Tim went into this negotiation with his team with a set of goals, as did we, and our goal quite simply was to renew the PGA TOUR to keep our best tournaments, to keep the schedule intact, and come out with a deal that made sense for both us and for our partners at the PGA TOUR, and I'm pleased to say that I think we did that, and I could not be happier in extending this deal.
I think Tim talked about the longevity of the deal. That was important to us, also. We believe at CBS Sports really strongly in long-term deals now. Our recent deals with the PGA Championship and with the NCAA basketball championship and with SEC football are all long-term deals. I think it's important for the future of CBS Sports, and it also allows us to work more closely with our various partners.
I'm thrilled that the deal is done. I'm thrilled that we have the same schedule we've had in previous years, and I'm also thrilled with the fact that it is as long as it is. I'm also a strong believer as many of you have heard me say that network television is an important component of a lot of sport, and I think golf is first and foremost in that group. I think the cable exposure is terrific, and I applaud The Golf Channel for what they do, but I think the broadcast partners in both NBC and CBS are also a really important part of the equation that has enabled the TOUR to be so successful in not just attracting sponsors, but as Tim said, keeping those sponsors on long, long-term deals through thick and thin, when the economy is good and when the economy is bad.
The corporate support that the TOUR has been able to achieve has been remarkable, and I think part of the reason for that success has been the way that both CBS and NBC showcase the events and showcase the sponsors and the supporters.
So I am really, really happy with this deal. The process was open. It was honest. And to be able to continue with the TOUR for the next ten years is a proud moment for CBS Sports. I also want to thank my team, a lot of long negotiating hours, a lot of long hours going over the contract and making sure that we tied up all the details, but I'm happy to say it's a deal that will be profitable for CBS going forward. It makes sense for us from the standpoint of the finances, and couldn't be happier to say that we'll be doing PGA TOUR golf for at least the next ten years.
TIM FINCHEM: Also, Mark Lazarus actually took over the job of doing this deal right before we started negotiating. Luckily we've known Mark for a long time from his days at Turner. He's a good friend. I don't know if all of you know, but he's also on the board of the East Lake Foundation in Atlanta. He's been close to our tournament in Atlanta over the years, the TOUR Championship, and he has hit the ground running with the work he did at the Olympics and now with the PGA TOUR.
MARK LAZARUS: Thank you, Tim, and hello, everybody. Sean, congratulations to you and CBS. We enjoy working with your team and with the Golf Channel.
We're thrilled, as well, to extend for nine more years and to be in business for the next decade. The NBC Sports Group is obviously very bullish on the sport of golf and the PGA TOUR with this extension for the NBC Television Network on behalf of our affiliate stations and their constituents and with the work we do and the long-term arrangement we have with Golf Channel, PGA TOUR and the game of golf are very important to our company and to our overall business model.
We are thrilled to say the least to be at the forefront of innovation with the PGA TOUR and to utilize our unique set of assets, the NBC Television Network, Golf Channel, nbcsports.com and golfchannel.com, to serve fans, to serve viewers, to serve those online in new and interesting ways and to bring more golf to more people across a variety of platforms that our unique set of assets allow us to do.
We believe that the PGA TOUR has done a wonderful job in maintaining sponsorship base in growing and spreading geographically across the country in helping maintain and build the game of golf for fans to follow. The innovation that Tim and his team have done both at events and have now brought alongside us that we will bring to viewers and to consumers we believe will set the new standard in sports media.
This deal for us is, again, an intelligent use of our wide array of assets. It's a business deal that makes sense for our company and will be profitable, and NBC Universal and the NBC Sports Group look forward to spending the next decade at golf courses around the country bringing the game's best stars to consumers each and every week.
Q. For Sean and Mark, both of you had indicated that this deal will be profitable over the nine-year period. There's been a lot written about the fact that the last deal has not necessarily been profitable, either network. Could you tell me if there's any assurances in some way, shape or form in this deal that wasn't in the last deal that you will be profitable?
TIM FINCHEM: Shoddy reporting (laughs).
SEAN McMANUS: I'll take that first. The business model that we came up with for the extension, which includes significant, and I would -- it's probably an understatement, significant underpinning support that the TOUR guarantees and delivers to the broadcast networks combined with what I would call even modest and conservative projections of the sales marketplace going forward, there is no doubt in my mind that this deal will be profitable for CBS, and if it wasn't, I wouldn't have gotten approval to do the deal. I am very confident that we're going to have a profitable deal on our hands.
MARK LAZARUS: I'll just echo that the underpinning and the sponsorship support that the TOUR provides both with their -- the tournament sponsors and their official partners is unique in sports, and that really allows us to, I think -- both Sean and I and our companies to have that certainly.
I heard the first part of the question where you asked about profitable over the nine years. I think I can say with some certainty that it'll be profitable in each of the nine years.
SEAN McMANUS: I would agree with that.
Q. Tim, what have you put into this deal that they've explained that there are significant underpinnings that maybe weren't part of the last deal? Can you talk about that at all?
TIM FINCHEM: The deals are structured the same as we've always structured them in that regard. We agreed to bring sponsorships at certain levels, and that figures into the overall valuation of the deals. I think both the networks and ourselves try to be reasonable and conservative in those projections so that we can make sure that we hit those targets. We've always hit them in the past, and we'll hit them again.
But the big news about these agreements is not -- those are just extensions of what we're currently doing largely. These agreements -- I think the big news is the term and the digital side of the equation that gives us a whole new dimension of how we deliver the product, which is additionally also valuable.
Q. This is a question for Mark: Since you guys have kind of integrated The Golf Channel and NBC you're all under the same umbrella, and in some ways your guys are sort of paying for the same product twice. Were there any hesitations or complications on that front, sort of having one department doing the weekdays, another department doing the weekends and that sort of thing?
MARK LAZARUS: I don't agree that we're paying for the same product twice. We have two very different sets of rights. In fact, being able to produce and work together in a slightly more familial way than say we do when we're on each week with CBS is, in fact, a cost benefit to us instead of an extra expense. Having Tommy Roy, who's our lead producer of golf, to work across both platforms is a luxury that we don't take lightly.
Q. Tim, you referenced a couple of times the digital opportunities, and I'm wondering if you can say how much, what percentage of that new area would be covered in this deal? How much would that make up of the revenues roughly?
TIM FINCHEM: Actually the revenue side of that part of it is not an area that's easy to count. There's not much in these deals that assumes that. I mean, you look at the -- everybody knows that tablets are going to be in 88 million hands in 2015. Everybody knows that people are spending more time on getting their content from smartphones and tablets. There's two ways to monetize it. One way is that, as I said earlier, that simulcast increases the overall audience for the telecast itself, which has been estimated to be within five or six years three to ten percent of the rating, which is a significant impactor, and just by making it easier for people to watch.
The thing about digital is it's easy to count. There's no hiding. You know exactly what's happening, so you can share that with the advertiser. But it's really -- the way this thing is structured, any of that that comes to fruition is really upside. It's upside for the sponsors, it's upside for the networks, and eventually it's upside for us.
We're real excited about that whole development, mainly because we think we're in the best position of any sport to create an environment where we have this individual relationship with fans at a whole lot of levels, and we're going to put a lot into that.
Q. Can you talk about the structure of the schedule? Sean mentioned that it sounds like it's about the same for CBS.
TIM FINCHEM: It is. If you just go back the last five years, once in a while there's some movement between the two packages. Both of these partners have NFL, both of them have the Super Bowl sometimes, so their NFL schedule with the Super Bowl maybe moves a tournament around, but on balance it'll be what you're looking at now.
Q. And will Playoff structure format remain the same? And also, can you comment on the status of this event, which is only signed through '12?
TIM FINCHEM: We're very comfortable with the future sponsorship position here. There are a variety of conversations going on here with our current sponsor, and we would fully anticipate that continuing. But there's a lot of interest in this tournament.
We don't see at this point any change in our basic structure as it relates to the Playoffs, to your question. This is a long-term deal, and our television partners are certainly open to us at any point coming in and saying, here's a better way to do it. But at this point in time, if you're looking at the basic network scheduling, we're pretty comfortable.
Now, the unique thing in this next four or five years is going to be Olympics, which is going to change the overall PGA TOUR schedule a little bit every four years, but other than that, if you're asking me about a three- to five-year time frame, I wouldn't anticipate any changes. Beyond that, I don't see anything now, but things change and opportunities come up, and we'll keep our options open. But those changes would be done in conjunction and in partnership with our television partners.
Q. How will the structure of your contracts with title sponsors be affected by this contract?
TIM FINCHEM: Not at all. Basically it's the same deal structure. A lot of our programming is now out there until '15, '16, sometimes longer, '17 in some cases. Again, the extensions that our sponsors have afforded us in the last two and a half years have created an ability to look out and see what's happening. It isn't like we're going back out with a new television agreement. The television agreement is predicated on what has been happening with title sponsors. That's what Sean was referring to.
Q. If I understood you correctly, you said that maybe CBS or NBC would be airing live coverage, then on The Golf Channel they would also be airing something, and I'm just curious what that might be. Would it be interviews or would it be live stroke play, and when do you think that might start happening?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, we're not -- in these agreements we're doing -- on the one hand we're going to provide for a fair amount of simulcast of what you see on television, so you can pick it up online, you can pick it up on a mobile device, et cetera. In addition to that, we will continue to do, as we currently do, some -- we do some few things now, but in the NBC/Golf Channel situation, they will definitely use The Golf Channel during the broadcast window in a lot of situations -- not all perhaps, but in a lot of situations to do other stuff.
Now, you could assume some things. If we have a unique pairing, if we have a unique hole or set of holes that -- the Bear Trap at -- whatever it could be, that might be the basis for it.
But both of these gentlemen on the phone see this as a work in progress. I mean, these agreements start in '13. A lot of what you're asking about is going to go ahead and get started in '12 in some cases, and '12 then becomes very much sort of an opportunity to test certain things and look at different applications, and we'll be -- this is just another way that we can interface with our fans more directly to get their direct feedback on what it is they want to see and what intrigues them.
So we're not going to say, okay, for the next five years we're going to do this. We're saying, let's try this, let's try that. We have all these capabilities, let's don't lock ourselves in, let's get creative, and that's why I say these deals really are two things: They provide stability and some reasonable growth to what we've been doing, and then they provide this whole range of opportunity to do things very differently.
Who knows where -- I'll just go off a little bit here, but Tom Friedman has a book coming out this week, and in that book he cites when he wrote "The World is Flat," and he thought that was a cutting-edge book. But he says in this book, if you go back and look at that book, and it's only five years ago, you can't find Skype, you can't find Twitter, and he lists about eight different things. That's pretty amazing. That's five years ago. None of that stuff was even there.
What we want to do, our overall strategic objective is to be as good or better than any other sport in harnessing those capabilities to interface with our fans. So we're not assuming anything. In fact, I'd say we have to ramp up our capabilities to meet that strategic objective.
SEAN McMANUS: I would just follow up on what Tim says, or said, that none of us know what all the multimedia opportunities are going to be three years from now, much less nine years from now. But the way these deals are structured between the three parties, CBS, NBC and the PGA TOUR, we're going to explore them together, and if there's a benefit to doing featured groups or more simulcasting, whatever it might be, all of us share in that upside and all of us are involved in the creative process.
I think it really is a joint effort to try to figure out what is the best for the viewer, what is the best for the fan, and how to disseminate all this great programming. But it really is -- it's not the PGA TOUR running off and doing their multimedia strategy and CBS doing theirs and NBC doing theirs. Yes, we all have unique properties and unique assets that we're going to employ, but we are actually all are going to be working together and trying to figure out what's going to be best and what's going to be the most successful business model.
That's what excites me, that what's going to be good for the TOUR going forward in the multimedia space I think is also going to be very good for the broadcast partners, and that's the kind of deal you want to be involved in.
MARK LAZARUS: And I think that if you look at the history of television and the history of sports, if you put quality product on the best screen available, people are going to migrate to it. Sean's point earlier about network television as a bellwether and marquee is certainly important here. And The Golf Channel as part of the golf industry is an important piece, and what we believe is that with the coverage that we will provide on NBC, the stroke-by-stroke, and the complementary coverage that we'll be able to provide on Golf Channel, along with what we'll do on the digital platforms, we're going to have the ability to do -- to feed that consumer's appetite for a variety of those experiences wherever they are and however they're best able to consume it and to give them a broad experience of the sport.
I think for us to be able to do things on Thursday and Friday digitally and then in other forms when people are in their offices and have access to high-speed lines is an important value for the TOUR and for us and for the growth of the game.
There was a question earlier, all of these things that we're talking about, I believe, add tremendous value to the tournament sponsors that Tim and his team have been able to secure. Those sponsors are getting, I believe, a heightened value because of all the various platforms that the TOUR, NBC sports group and CBS are putting together here.
Q. I wondered, can you elaborate if you can on what the statement meant by extended coverage of THE PLAYERS, and was there ever any serious thought to changing that date on the schedule?
TIM FINCHEM: The answer to the next question was there wasn't an extended discussion. We've looked at those dates as you know off and on. But we've gotten quite comfortable in May. We think it's the best place long-term for THE PLAYERS.
Extended coverage, the way we should have articulated that in the release is that we will continue the unique coverage with Golf Channel and NBC of THE PLAYERS with limited commercial inventory, and we're going to do some other things -- we'll be announcing a couple other things we're going to do around THE PLAYERS maybe later this fall, but as part of that overall presentation, which I think are interesting, but the fundamental is that the uniqueness of that presentation will continue, and we're very pleased about it because the fans love it, and we're delighted it'll continue.
Q. Tim, I know you don't discuss specifics of the financials, but are you able to give -- you did say that they will increase, your rights are increasing. Can you give a percentage on that, that increase that you're looking at over the length of the contract here?
TIM FINCHEM: No. (Laughter.)
Q. Well, I tried. Could you then discuss the additional underpinning of support, as you put it, from the TOUR and the sponsors when it comes to this contract?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, I kind of got into this a couple minutes ago, but I think what Sean was referring to, I know what Sean was referring to is that we look at our underpinning levels based on a variety of factors, leading with where are we today and where are we going and what do we know about, and we're at a point, and we worked hard to get to a point going into these discussions, we were able to look out a good number of years and know what our values are.
When you combine what those numbers are, numbers that are currently contracted, with the very high percentage of sponsors that have committed to continuing, and when it comes to television costs we treat all our sponsors the same, that pattern is very strong and speaks to the overall value that we'll deliver. We don't hesitate to commit, as we never have in the past, to commit to that value, and it's a significant revenue stream for the overall enterprise.
It's not the only one. Scatter sales account for a very healthy percentage sold by the networks that complement the title sponsor sales and FedEx sales. So it's a combination of things.
But when you look at the last three years, with the worst economic downturn since the recession when a lot of our core advertising dollars in autos, in financial services just went through the floor, and yet during all of that time we grew, our sponsorships got extended, the value of those sponsorships grew, it sets a very positive tone for the future and one that we're not hesitant to commit to. It is that that Sean was referring to.
Q. If I could ask a question of Sean then. When it comes to sponsors and their interaction of new contracts like this, do sponsors now show more interest in the digital component, equal interest -- I'm assuming it's at least equal but probably more. Which is the more important component to sponsors going forward as compared to the TV part?
SEAN McMANUS: I think it's kind of tough to generalize because each sponsor has its own set of priorities and often times a different target they're trying to reach. Some sponsors are more aggressive in the new digital space and some are less aggressive. It's really hard to quantify. Both in golf and our sports we have sponsors that come in and say right now the fantasy space is very important to us because we're trying to reach a certain demographic or the female demographic or the male demographic. It really depends what their marketing goals are.
I would love to generalize and say the priorities are shifting more here or there, but it really just depends on what they're looking for. I will say, however, that the digital space, whether it's the internet or whether it's iPads or mobile applications, the digital space obviously is becoming more important. I would also say that at least at this point in history, and I think it will continue for quite some time, the majority of our revenue in sports programming is still coming from traditional media, 30-second spots and corporate sponsorship and title sponsorship and underpinning, more so than the digital space. But I think all of us realize that digital space, while it might be a lot smaller than the traditional media, is growing and in some cases at a faster pace.
Just to follow-up on the question you had asked Tim: I didn't mean to imply that the underpinning and the support is something new. Obviously it's been the foundation of the television agreements for decades right now. It's just when somebody asked me the question on the financial prospects of this deal, when you look at the underpinning that is brought in and the season-long sponsor, it is exactly what it says: It is an underpinning, which makes the prospects of the deal obviously that much more secure.
But it's nothing new. Tim didn't all of a sudden say I'm going to be bringing you X, Y and Z. It's been something that's been brought to us for years.
Just one quick other point. Tim is right that when the worst economy in decades hit us, there was a general thought that some of the sponsorship support on a short-term basis and a long-term basis might be in jeopardy, but I will say that the TOUR, and I'm sure this is true of NBC, also, and The Golf Channel, that the TOUR did not miss a beat in terms of delivering us what they were supposed to, and they could not have been better partners in terms of weathering with us a really tough economic time.
JOHN BUSH: Sean and Mark, we appreciate you joining us today, and Commissioner, any closing comments?
TIM FINCHEM: No, just thank you for being here. Our staff is available to answer any questions during the course of the remainder of the week. I guess I'll be around for a couple questions right after. I want to thank, again, Mark and Sean for taking time to do this and participating, and I can't tell you from a PGA TOUR perspective how excited we are about the future. Thank you.
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