Mike McCarley

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Mike McCarley is an American broadcasting executive and the president of golf for the NBC Sports Group. He is a protégé of former NBC Sports & Olympics Chairman Dick Ebersol and has close connections to several sports icons, including the late Arnold Palmer. A Sports Business Journal profile said, "McCarley doesn't talk about ratings, ad sales or the new shows he's overseen. Rather, he talks about Arnold Palmer. The relationship McCarley has forged with Palmer is indicative of how the network executive operates in the business." [1] McCarley was named to the elite Sports Business Journal "40 under 40" Hall of Fame in 2013[1] after selections in 2009,[2] and 2010.[3] In 2012, following his first year as president of Golf Channel and the first of several years when the channel was the fastest growing network on American television, he was named Sports Network Executive of the Year by Cynopsis Sports.[4]


Golf Channel came under the umbrella of NBC Universal when its owner, Comcast, acquired control of NBCU on January 28, 2011.[5] On February 2, NBC Sports Group announced that McCarley would take the reins as Golf Channel president. McCarley said his mandate was to integrate and grow the golf assets of the newly combined company, which includes NBC and digital tee-time booker GolfNow, and incorporate more of the NBC "sports sensibility" into Golf Channel's programming.[6]

McCarley told Broadcasting & Cable, "There are resources available within the new, larger company that we'll deploy when it's appropriate and when it makes sense for the audience. We're never going to stray from the core of the mission, which is to serve the viewer, the golf fan."

In 2011 Golf Channel started a trend of several years of growth, setting viewership records every year from 2011-14. In 2012 Golf Channel became the fastest-growing network on U.S. television among networks serving 80 million or more homes, according to the Nielsen Company.[7][8] Also in 2012, Golf Channel launched programming for the first time in India and other markets across South Asia, bringing its international reach to 83 countries.[9]

In addition to increased viewership, McCarley steered continued growth by adding younger-skewing programming, partnering with the NCAA for the college golf championship and Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, for the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship for children[10] and extending the flagship “Morning Drive” program to seven days a week with a broader focus to include the lifestyle of golf.

In recent years, a trend of expansion and diversifying NBC Sports’ golf business has continued. Florida Gov. Rick Scott visited Golf Channel in 2013 to celebrate the expansion of the network's facilities and the creation of 88 new jobs.[11]

In a landmark, 12-year agreement in 2015, NBC and Golf Channel won the rights to televise the British Open, which had been held by ABC for more than 50 years [12] and became the first major golf championship on Golf Channel. In 2018, the audience for the British Open topped the audience for the U.S. Open for the first time in history[13] and was the most-watched British Open in 18 years.[14]

Technology subsidiary GolfNow, expanded to Europe and opened new headquarters in Belfast. According to the Belfast Telegraph, its Belfast city offices now house 71 staff. Its founders say it could double that number over the next couple of years. It is also planning to expand to Australia and South Africa.[15]

In 2018, the network announced a partnership with St. Andrews Links and its seven golf courses, including the Old Course where golf has been played since the 1400s. The partnership will benefit from Golf Channel's expanded distribution of 500 million homes around the world.[16]

McCarley has been recognized for creating a positive culture inside the company. “What really drives the bus at the Golf Channel is the creation of a healthy, positive working environment. McCarley has labored very hard over the past few years to make the network the kind of place where the nearly 700 employees can look forward to coming in each day.

“Most people who work here would be able to tell you why the things that they do every day matter, and why they help the company succeed. You feel like you’re part of a team. And when the team wins, you win.”[17]

McCarley's leadership style is collaborative. “I encourage our employees to ask questions. Why did we do something a certain way? Why did we make this decision; I don’t understand this. Because the more you understand those decisions and how certain things connect to the ultimate goals of the company, the better you’re going to be at your job, and the more opportunity you’re going to have in your career.”[18]

According to Forbes, in 2017 and 2018, “Golf Channel seems to continuously evolve as a new media technology platform” and “Golf Channel is far more than a 24-hour television network devoted to golf.” [19][20]

McCarley is regularly listed as one of the most powerful people in golf.[21][22]

Multichannel News named him one of the “Forty Under 40” in 2013 [23] and CableFAX has named him one of its Top 100 power players for cable programming since 2012.[24]

Arnold Palmer Relationship

McCarley was careful to maintain Golf Channel co-founder Arnold Palmer's original vision when leading the business through years of unprecedented growth, Golfweek noted in the days following Palmer's passing. “Palmer became an adviser and confidante of Mike McCarley…who was less than half of Palmer’s age. McCarley has said that he leaned on Palmer for insight about how the golf industry has evolved, in hopes of gleaning lessons to direct Golf Channel’s future course.[25] He often paid homage and invoked Palmer’s influence even as the media company moved into new business ventures and expanded.

On Golf Channel’s 20thAnniversary, McCarley told USA Today that "even though we're now part of a big company, you still want the spirit of how this place was founded to be a living, breathing part of what makes it tick. That culture and everything Arnold represented, that should be part of it."[26]

As Golf Channel renovated its offices, the network created more ties to its founder. The Associated Press listed several at the time of Palmer's passing: “the spot of Palmer’s old office became the Arnold Palmer Research Library. There’s an employee cafeteria called Arnie’s.

“Morning Drive” is shot in Studio A.P., with his signature umbrella over the on-air light outside. Palmer was there to cut the ribbon when the redesigned studio debuted a few years ago.

Arnold Palmer still had a parking spot outside his old office at Golf Channel, the network he co-founded more than two decades ago. Hours after the golfing great died at age 87, the space was filled with flowers, candles and pictures as rain poured down on the makeshift memorial at the Orlando, Florida, headquarters.



McCarley started at NBC in 2000, as communications director for its Olympic division. He is credited as the architect of the network's "big event strategy," which has resulted in record television audiences for a variety of sports events, including the Olympics, NFL, Kentucky Derbyand NHL. He is also credited with NBC's successful "Sunday Night Is Football Night" campaign.[29]

In 2006, after several roles working with numerous sports leagues, McCarley was elevated to senior vice president, strategic marketing, promotion and communications, adding oversight of all NBC Sports advertising and promotions.[30] McCarley had been considering leaving NBC to get a masters of business, but Ebersol "frowned and said, 'Stay here and get your MBA from me."[2]

The Wall Street Journal reported that, "Promotion, in the world of McCarley's mentor, NBC Sports Group Chairman Dick Ebersol, is not just fluff, it's key to the master plan."[6]


Under McCarley in 2010, Sunday Night Football became the only regularly scheduled sports program of any kind to be the No. 1 primetime program of the television season in 2010,[29] a statistic that has continued ever since and in 2018 became the longest-running No. 1 primetime television program.[31]

He told Sports Business Daily that he knew his football campaign was a success when he heard his mother-in-law imitate Al Roker's weather forecast for Sunday games.[32] Super Bowl XLIII (2009) became the most-watched single program in U.S. television history with a record 152 million viewers.[33]


Beijing 2008[edit]

In August 2008, McCarley was promoted to senior vice president following NBC's coverage of the Beijing Olympics. He collaborated with the network's broadcast partners and led all NBC Sports brand-related activities. On all 17 nights of the games, NBC had more viewers than ABC, CBS, and FOX combined. The Beijing Games became the most watched U.S. television event of all time, with 215 million viewers.[34]

Vancouver 2010[edit]

The Vancouver Winter Olympics was the second most-watched Winter Olympics in history with 190 million viewers, following the "tabloid-fueled" 1994 Lillehammer Games,[35] and the only show to ever beat American Idol in ratings.[36]

Other records[edit]

McCarley was coordinating producer for the 2009 NHL Winter Classic's promotional campaign, which won the first-ever Emmy Award for sports promotion[37] combining winter images of Wrigley Field with Harry Caray's rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." The 2011 Classic was the most watched NHL contest in the United States since 1996.[38] In 2012, he was named Sports Network Executive of the Year by Cynopsis Sports, noting that in his first year he'd led The Golf Channel to the most-watched year of its 17-year history in 2011.[4]


McCarley is a native of Memphis, Tennessee and a graduate of the University of Arizona.[39]


  1. ^ a b "Forty Under 40". www.sportsbusinessdaily.com. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  2. ^ a b “2009 Forty Under 40: Mike McCarley”, “Sports Business Journal,” March 23, 2009
  3. ^ “2010 Forty Under 40: Mike McCarley”, “Sports Business Journal,” March 8, 2010
  4. ^ a b “Sports Luminaries To Be Honored at Cynopsis Sports Media Awards in August”, Cynopsis press release, July 16, 2012
  5. ^ Lafayette, Jon. “New Boss Tees Up Changes At Golf Channel”, “Broadcasting & Cable,” February 4, 2011
  6. ^ a b Paul, John. “Golf on Television Gets Supersized”, “The Wall Street Journal,” March 5, 2011
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  8. ^ "Golf Channel Maintains Ratings, Digital Momentum in 2014". Multichannel. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  9. ^ "Golf Channel Posts Four Best Years In Network History Since Joining NBC Sports Group With Highest-Rated And Second Most-Watched Year Ever In 2014 - The Golf Wire". The Golf Wire. 2015-01-08. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  10. ^ "01/12/15: Mike McCarley talks shop as Golf Channel tees off on year 20". Cynopsis Media. 2015-01-12. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  11. ^ "Gov. Rick Scott to help Golf Channel celebrate 88 new jobs". tribunedigital-orlandosentinel. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  12. ^ "NBC, Golf Channel ending ABC/ESPN British Open reign". www.sportsbusinessdaily.com. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  13. ^ "TV audience for final round of British Open tops that of U.S. Open". Golfweek. 2018-07-24. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  14. ^ "Woods puts a Tiger in NBC's tank as British Open ratings hit 18-year-high". Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  15. ^ "GolfNow tee booking firm to 'double' Northern Ireland workforce". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  16. ^ Matuszewski, Erik. "Golf Channel Teams With St Andrews As Official Media Partner". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  17. ^ "The Golf Channel". i4 Business Magazine. 2014-05-29. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  18. ^ "The Importance of Asking Questions in Your Organization". Eller Executive Education. 2016-08-11. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  19. ^ Matuszewski, Erik. "Golf Channel Teams With St Andrews As Official Media Partner". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  20. ^ Matuszewski, Erik. "Golf Channel Acquires Revolution Golf, Boosting Digital Audience To 15 Million". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  21. ^ "THE MOST POWERFUL People in Golf: 2015". www.golfincmagazinemonthly-digital.com. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  22. ^ "Golf Inc. November/December Golf Inc". Retrieved 2018-08-01.
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  24. ^ "CableFAX 100 2012 - Cablefax". Cablefax. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  25. ^ "Arnold Palmer's brand remains business royalty". Golfweek. 2018-03-14. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  26. ^ "Lampooned at creation, Golf Channel celebrates 20 years". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  27. ^ "Golf Channel presents special coverage of co-founder, legend Arnold Palmer's life". The Japan Times Online. 2016-09-27. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  28. ^ "Golf Channel Posts Four Best Years In Network History Since Joining NBC Sports Group With Highest-Rated And Second Most-Watched Year Ever In 2014 - The Golf Wire". The Golf Wire. 2015-01-08. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  29. ^ a b Gorman, Bill. ““Sunday Night Football” No. 1 Show Of Primetime Season; Undefeated vs. Competition In 2010”, “TV By the Numbers,” January 5, 2011
  30. ^ “Mike McCarley – Corporate Biography” Archived 2011-05-11 at the Wayback Machine, “NBCUMV.com,” February 2, 2011
  31. ^ "Sunday Night Football claims top spot in primetime once again". Awful Announcing. 2018-05-24. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  32. ^ "Mike McCarley". www.sportsbusinessdaily.com. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  33. ^ "Super Bowl XLIII now most-watched EVER? Yes!". TV By The Numbers. 2009-02-03. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  34. ^ Gorman, Bill. “NBC Hopes For 200 Million Winter Olympics Viewers, Topping Torino and Salt Lake City”, “TV By the Numbers,” January 30, 2010
  35. ^ Siedman, Robert. “190 Million People Watched Olympics in US, 2nd Most-Watched Winter Olympics in History”, “TV By the Numbers,” March 1, 2010
  36. ^ “NBC strikes ratings gold — Olympics beat ‘Idol’”, “MSNBC,” February 2, 2010
  37. ^ “Winners Of 30th Annual Sports Emmy Awards Announced By National Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences” Archived 2010-05-05 at the Wayback Machine, “Emmy Online,” April 27, 2009
  38. ^ "Winter Classic On NBC Is Top NHL Regular-Season Audience In 36 Years". SportsBusiness Daily. Street & Smith. January 3, 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-16.
  39. ^ "Mike McCarley | Golf Channel". Golf Channel. Retrieved 2018-08-01.

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