Newly-joined NBC and Sky to launch joint golf coverage at Players
By Hilary Russ
NEW YORK, March 11 (Reuters) - NBC Sports Group and Sky Sports are set to announce on Monday that they are planning the most extensive television coverage ever of the Players Championship golf tournament, their biggest collaborative foray on sports coverage since Comcast Corp took over Sky last fall.
NBC and Sky plan to swap analysts and some other content as part of their extensive coverage this week at the Players Championship in Florida, the PGA Tour's flagship event.
"This is now the most comprehensive collaboration between NBC Sports and Sky Sports to date. There will be more going forward," Mike McCarley, President of Golf for NBC Sports Group, told Reuters.
Among other joint programming the channels are set to launch later on Monday, Sky will air nearly 25 hours of live simulcast coverage of "Golf Central Live," from this week's tournament.
The U.S.-based cable company Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal and its Golf Channel, won a bidding war in September with a $40 billion offer for 39 percent of the European pay-TV group Sky Ltd.
The two networks first began talking about how they could make sports coverage more efficient and collaborative at the Ryder Cup in September.
Both companies decided to focus first on golf and the English Premier League, "two sports in which we had a shared significant investment," McCarley said.
"It's not the easiest process to get through, but everyone comes to the table with the right spirit of collaboration," he said of the post-merger evolution.
The Players Championship marks the first big event of the pro golf year, now that the tournament has been moved back to March from May for the first time since 2006 as part of a calendar overhaul aimed at improving the season. (Reporting by Hilary Russ, editing by G Crosse)