Practice What You Preach
A few weeks ago the USGA announced, at the start of the U.S. Women's Open, a new initiative to help media organizations pay reporters to cover women's sports.
According to Reuters, The United States Golf Association (USGA) on Wednesday launched a program aimed at increasing media coverage of the women’s game by offering financial support to news organizations.
The Driving Equity Grant Program will award grants to outlets to offset the costs associated with increased coverage of the women’s game.
Recent studies show that only 4% of sports coverage and storytelling features female athletes, the USGA said.
“Today, women’s sports, including golf, are stuck in a recurring cycle where media outlets don’t always receive significant return on investment when they cover events that lack household names,” said Craig Annis, the USGA’s chief brand officer.
“Simultaneously, it is nearly impossible for a sport to build household names without consistent and rich storytelling from the media.”
Annis said the USGA feels a deep responsibility to be a leader in breaking that cycle.
This is an admirable program, and one that is long overdue. For frequent readers of this column you know that I have been a staunch champion of women's golf in particular and women in general. I applaud the USGA for taking this on and wish them tremendous success.
However, they might want to start in their own media offices to help the ladies get more coverage on the network they have chosen to partner with, NBC.
While making the announcement, on the very network covering their storied golf tournament, the family of NBC sports was dedicating 26 hours, over four days, of coverage of the ladies tournament. Six of those hours were on their new streaming service, Peacock, half of the coverage time was on the Golf Channel, and the remaining seven hours was on national TV on NBC.
Traditionally with a major tournament, The Golf Channel will offer hours of daily coverage prior to Thursday tee off with their "Live From The" shows, and then include multiple hours of wrap up each night of the tournament. Unless it is a women's major. There are never any early week "Live From The" shows, other than a few minutes each night on Golf Central, and rarely any wrap up shows each day of the tournament.
Compare that to this weeks men's US Open where you will get eight hours of streaming coverage on Peacock, fifteen hours of coverage on The Golf Channel, and twenty three prime time hours of coverage on NBC for a four day total of 46 hours of coverage, or 44% more than they devoted to the women.
This of course does not include the nightly four hours+ of prime time "Live From The" shows each night prior to Thursday, and at least three hours of wrap up each night of the tournament. Apparently the USGA is OK with their television partner shorting the ladies of air time.
And don't think I've forgotten about the LPGA itself which has routinely allowed television to short shift them of coverage, including breaking away while the tournament is still being played to hurry out to coverage of the Korn Ferry tour. This is something the PGA Tour would never allow and shame on the LPGA for allowing it to happen nearly every week.
In spite of what Linda say's, I am not an idiot. I get that the men generate more viewers and more revenue, and you know why? Because the TV networks have devoted way more time to developing the PGA players into brand names. If they did the same for the LPGA they might be surprised how many more people would watch.
There are some interesting stories, on the LPGA tour, that the average fan would appreciate, and frankly,, the game the ladies play is way closer to the kind of golf the average golfer is playing with their friends on a Saturday match at the club.
So hurray to the USGA for bringing attention and money to women's golf but start in house and practice what you preach.