USGA CEO Mike Whan has heard the criticism.
The social media backlash from countless viewers who found NBC’s broadcast across multiple networks bordering on unwatchable due to the endless ad breaks did not fall on deaf ears.
“I’m on it!” Mike Whan tweeted from his personal account. “We have the best sports production team in the world here with our partner NBC Sports (Olympics, Super Bowl, etc.) and if the amount of interruptions are problematic, we will work with our partner to do better.”
Golf.com, citing multiple sources, reported that “stakeholders from both the USGA and NBC held talks on Saturday to address the social media backlash to the broadcast, specifically with regard to the commercial load.” It is common for the network to have daily conversations with USGA officials, including to discuss elements of the coverage.
The USGA and NBC are longtime TV partners. But the USGA struck a lucrative deal with Fox that began in 2015. This is the second year that NBC has returned to broadcasting USGA championships after buying out the back end of Fox’s bloated 12-year deal. Of the USGA’s 15 championships, the US Open is far and away the most in demand among advertisers. To recoup expenses, the US Open has more frequent commercial breaks.
NBC’s coverage also has been derided this week for asking viewers to flip channels between Peacock, its premium (paid) streaming service, USA Network and NBC, but not Golf Channel.
Whan is in his first year at the helm of the USGA after previously serving as LPGA Commissioner. He tweeted back at No Laying Up, who was highly critical of the coverage and tagged Whan in one of its missives.
“More TV people here than the Super Bowl (true!) So we / the USGA will work to free them up to do what they do better than anyone,” Whan wrote. “This has been a great US Open and we will work to make 2023 at LACC even better!”
The last hour of Sunday’s broadcast of the final round should be more to the liking of viewers as it will be shown commercial-free thanks to Rolex, which is an official USGA partner.