|Launched||January 17, 1995|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)
|Broadcast area||United States
|Formerly called||The Golf Channel
|DirecTV (U.S.)||218 (HD/SD)
|Dish Network (U.S.)||401 (HD/SD)|
|Astro (Malaysia)||815 (SD)
|SKY México (Mexico)||528 (SD)|
|DishHD (Taiwan)||6360 (HD)|
|TrueVisions (Thailand)||675 (HD)|
|Available on most U.S. and Canadian cable systems||Consult your local cable provider for channels|
|StarHub TV (Singapore)||213 (SD)|
|UPC Czech Republic||Check local listings for channels|
|Bell Fibe TV (Canada)TELUS TV (Canada)||1415 (HD)
416 (SD)116 (SD)
|AT&T U-verse (U.S.)||1641 (HD)
Golf Channel (originally "The Golf Channel" from 1995 to 2007) is an American cable and satellite television network owned by the NBC Sports Group division of NBCUniversal. The channel focuses on coverage of the sport of golf. Founded in Birmingham, Alabama, the channel's headquarters and studios are currently located in Orlando, Florida. Golf Channel is available in the United States, Canada and a few nations in Asia and Latin America through cable, satellite and wireless transmissions.
History and programming
The network was launched in 1995, with a ceremonial flip of the switch by co-founder Arnold Palmer on January 17. The idea of a 24-hour golf network came from media entrepreneur Joseph E. Gibbs of Birmingham, Alabama, who first thought of such a concept in 1991. Gibbs felt there was enough interest in golf among the public to support such a network, and commissioned a Gallup Poll to see if his instincts were correct. With the support of the polling behind him, Gibbs and legendary golfer Palmer then secured $80 million in financing to launch the network, which was among the first cable networks developed to cover one singular sport. Announced in February 1993, the launch date was targeted for May 1994; it went on the air in early 1995. The first live tournament the channel televised was the Dubai Desert Classic, held January 19–22. Originally a premium channel on cable with limited subscribers, it retooled in September 1995 to be part of basic cable to reach more viewers and ratings rapidly increased. Co-founder Gibbs stepped down at the end of 2001.
Golf Channel features a range of golf programming, including PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA Tour, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour (now called the Web.com Tour) events. PGA Tour tournament purses grew from $ 1-3 million in 1994 to $5-8 million in 2005.
The channel devotes considerable time to news coverage of golf, including a nightly program, Golf Central. There are highlight shows of past tournaments, and a reality television competition show, The Big Break, whose premise is to help aspiring professionals gain exemptions into PGA Tour and LPGA events. In 2005, Golf Channel helped set up a special match play event called Big Stakes Golf, in which teams of two paid a $100,000 entry fee to play in a special tournament where the winning team split a $3,000,000 first-place prize, the largest in golf history. In the end, mini-tour professionals Garth Mulroy and David Ping won the grand prize.
In 2007, Golf Channel embarked on a 15-year agreement as the exclusive cable television home for the PGA Tour. The network’s annual coverage features early-round coverage of the entire FedEx Cup season, including the World Golf Championships, The Tour Championship and The Players Championship. In total, early-round coverage of 30 events air on Golf Channel. Also included in the package are 13 full, four-round events beginning with the season’s first three tournaments – SBS Championship, Sony Open in Hawaii, and the Bob Hope Classic – and the five official money events following The Tour Championship. The network also provides full coverage of three tournaments played opposite golf's majors and World Golf Championships. Every PGA Tour event airs live and is then rebroadcast in prime time, a first for the PGA Tour.
In January 2011, Comcast, the current owner of Golf Channel, acquired a 51% majority stake in NBC Universal from General Electric. As a result of the re-alignment of Comcast's existing properties into NBC Universal, control of Golf Channel and sister sports network Versus was transferred to a restructured NBC Sports division. On-air synergies between NBC's existing production unit began to take effect in February 2011 at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, when golf telecasts on NBC took on Golf Channel's production and branding as "Golf Channel on NBC", in a similar manner to ESPN's co-branding of sports output on ABC. NBC Sports personalities could now appear on Golf Channel, and former NBC Sports senior vice president Mike McCarley took over as the network's new head. The network also adopted an amended logo featuring the NBC peacock.
In December 2013, Golf Channel unveiled a new logo, implemented in May 2014 to coincide with the 2014 Players Championship. The new logo replaces the "swinging G" emblem that had been used since the network's launch with a wordmark alongside the NBC peacock.
A 1080i high definition feed of Golf Channel was launched in January 2007. Initially, its HD feed was shared with sister network Versus in an arrangement marketed as Versus/Golf HD; Golf Channel programming was broadcast during the daytime hours, and Versus programming was broadcast during the evening and primetime hours. The shared channel was replaced by individual HD feeds for both channels in December 2008.
- Champions Tour, played at various venues in the United States, Canada and South Korea.
- European Tour, played at various venues throughout Europe.
- LPGA Tour, played at various venues worldwide.
- Web.com Tour, played at venues in the United States, Mexico, Panama and Colombia.
- PGA Tour, played at various venues in the United States and worldwide.
News and analysis
- Golf Central
- Morning Drive
Factual and reality
- Champions Tour Learning Center
- Golf Fitness Academy
- Playing Lessons
- School Of Golf
- The Golf Fix
Golf Channel UK
A British version of the channel called Golf Channel UK was operated by sporting goods retailer JJB Sports, and was available on the BSkyB satellite service. It broadcast many of the programs seen on the U.S. channel, but was unable to attract a viable audience as it offered few live golf tournaments; the channel shut down on December 31, 2007. All the major tours have their main broadcasting contracts in UK with either Sky Sports or Setanta Golf, and BBC Sport covers several major tournaments each year.
Golf Channel Latin America
The Latin American version of the Golf Channel was launched in 2006, as a joint venture between DirecTV and Paraguayan businessman Carlos Ávila. The channel broadcasts professional tournaments from the PGA Tour, PGA Tour Latinoamérica and European Tour with Spanish-speaking journalists, as well as Golf Central and other English-language shows.
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- Fanáticos del golf contarán un canal dedicado sólo a este deporte - El Mercurio, 12 October 2006 (in Spanish)