Fox Grabs TV Rights to U.S. Open Golf From NBC-ESPN

21st Century Fox Inc., Rupert Murdoch’s film and television company, signed a 12-year agreement to televise the U.S. Open golf tournaments, grabbing a marquee event from NBC and ESPN.

The Fox broadcast network and the new cable channel Fox Sports 1 will carry the U.S. Open, the U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open championships from 2015 to 2026, the New York-based media company said yesterday in a statement with the United States Golf Association. The deal includes broadcast, cable and multimedia rights.

The agreement marks Fox’s first foray into professional golf. With the U.S. Open, which traditionally airs in June, the company gains sports programming that can help highlight new shows ahead of the start of the prime-time TV season in September. Fox is taking over rights previously split between Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN and Comcast Corp.’s NBC.

“We’re committed to elevating coverage of USGA events on every level, infusing them with a new energy and innovation that will make every championship the best golf event on television,” Eric Shanks, co-president and co-chief operating officer of Fox Sports, said in the statement.

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Under the deal, Fox Sports will also televise the USGA’s national amateur championships and international team competitions, according to the statement.

“We’ve enjoyed our 19-year relationship with the USGA, and will continue to serve the golf fan every day,” NBC Sports said in a statement. NBC and Comcast’s Golf Channel “will continue to be the dominant voice in golf coverage going forward,” it said.

ESPN has had a “rewarding relationship with the USGA,” Disney’s sports channel said. “We look forward to televising the U.S. Open and other USGA championships in 2014 and wish them the best in the future.”

Fox Class A shares climbed 1.9 percent to $31.81 at the close in New York yesterday. The stock has gained 41 percent this year.

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