LPGA announces five-year broadcast rights agreement

LPGA announces five-year broadcast rights agreement, new event in Southern California, title sponsorship for 2009 Phoenix LPGA International

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 12, 2009 - Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and JoongAng Broadcasting Corporation (JBC) have agreed to a five-year partnership that names J Golf the LPGA's official Korean media rights partner starting in 2010. The announcement was made today by LPGA Commissioner Carolyn F. Bivens during a press conference in Los Angeles.

The Korean broadcast rights agreement is a significant element of a multi-tiered commitment to the LPGA. J Golf will have exclusive broadcast rights, which include terrestrial, cable, satellite, IPTV, broadband and DMB, within Korea for nearly all LPGA Tour events through 2014. JBC also will underwrite an event on the 2010-2014 LPGA Tour schedules in Southern California; the venue and tournament name will be announced at a later date. In addition, JBC has assumed title sponsorship rights to the 2009 Phoenix LPGA International Presented by Mirassou Winery; the official event name will be announced in the near future. Finally, JBC also has the rights to create and operate the official Korean-language Web site of the LPGA.

The overall media rights investment in the LPGA over five years is the largest in LPGA history.

"JBC provides the LPGA with a progressive, creative partner prepared to showcase our golfers and tournaments across an array of platforms," said Bivens. "We're also pleased that this multifaceted partnership extends our portfolio in the United States."

J Golf currently owns the broadcast rights in Korea for the Korea LPGA, Ladies Professional Golfers' Association of Japan, PGA European Tour and the Ladies European Tour.

"We are excited to add the LPGA to our broadcast portfolio and look forward to bringing the great golf and interesting personalities of the LPGA stars to the great golf fans throughout Korea," said Hee Sang Park, J Golf Manager of Strategy Team. "We'll not only broadcast the tournaments but we will produce a variety of programming in order to bring excitement to viewers in Korea. As the broadcast provider for much of the world's professional golf, we regularly produce instructional and event programming that is very popular among golfers in Korea and we look forward to including the LPGA Tour in our content."

About J Golf, JoongAng Broadcasting Corporation
J Golf is a division of JBC, which is owned by JoongAng Ilbo, a major Korean media conglomerate headquartered in South Korea that also includes Forbes Korea and Newsweek Korea. JBC includes J Golf, Q Channel and Cartoon Network. J Golf also is the leader in cable and satellite in Korea with eight million households.

LPGA Teleconference
Feb. 12, 2009
LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens
Sherri Steinhauer, LPGA Player Director and vice president of the Player Directors

THE MODERATOR: We just had a special announcement here at the Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles. A very exciting day that's begun for the LPGA as was yesterday. I have with me commissioner of the LPGA, Carolyn Bivens, as well as Sherri Steinhauer, a LPGA Player Director who serves as vice president.

I'm going to turn it over to Carolyn. We are a little tight on time, but we hope to be able to accommodate all of your questions. I would ask that you limit your questions, and with a follow up, and hopefully we'll be able to accommodate your questions regarding this announcement that we are having today.
CAROLYN BIVENS:
Good afternoon, I know that you all have the press release, so I want to start with a few things that aren't covered specifically in the press release. The work at the LPGA the past few years has been towards Vision 2010, and revolved around the expiration of our domestic television contracts in several of the significant international writes to agreements and media partnerships.

In the strategic plan, and the work that we've been doing towards Vision 2010, media partnership and monetizing the popularity and the value of the LPGA has been two of the key strategic initiatives.

Today as a part of the strategic plan, we announce a strategic partnership, 2010 through 2014, with broadcasting, JBC, again, five year partnership beginning 2010 through 2014.

JBC is a very progressive, exciting company. The LPGA will be joining as the PGA TOUR of Europe, the Korean LPGA, the Japanese LPGA, and the Asian tour.

Most exciting is the fact that it is a multi platform partnership. So, television and exclusive rights to cover the tournaments, the broad of the tournament in Korea is certainly part of it.

But the digital platform, the magazine platforms as well as the newspaper are equally as important. It is covered in the press release, but the fact that, again, there will be original programming as well as the coverage of the tournament means that the media coverage and the exposure for the individual stars on the LPGA will help us in terms of consistency and overall promotion.

Additionally, this partnership involves the development by JBC of the South Korean LPGA Web site. It also includes five years of a start eligibility tournament in Southern California. The location is to be determined.

And finally, with this group agreement, JBC has assumed the title sponsorship of this year's 2009 Phoenix LPGA International Presented by Mirassou Winery. These folks have been persistent, dynamic, and have presented the value and their willingness to participate and to invest into the LPGA. This is the largest contract ever signed in the history of the LPGA.

Other than the business perspective, though a member of the board and one of the members of the association, I'm going to turn it over to (LPGA Tour) vice president and player director, Sherri Steinhauer. Sherri?

SHERRI STEINHAUER: Thank you. Hello, everyone. Just from talking from the players’ point of view we are just so proud today of this announcement. It really shows the progress of women's golf, and the positive direction that we're moving in. And to have this announcement, I think J Golf is recognizing the value in the LPGA and its players. This is just a monumental day for us, and the history of the LPGA.

As players, I mean, you're talking a five year TV rights deal with J Golf. A five year Southern California tournament. J Golf owning the rights fees for this year's Phoenix event, and then that to go along with announcing yesterday the Golf Channel and the 10 year TV rights deal?

This is really amazing for us. And then I think it's just such a great deal for us, the players also, because with this wonderful deal that we have, we get to share a portion of these dollars with the sponsors, which is in addition to what they've already received.

But they're going to be fortunate enough in receiving some more money and we're very happy to be able to give back to them, too.

I think this is really a win win situation on so many fronts. The players, the sponsors and the LPGA. So just on behalf of the players, I just feel so fortunate to be a part of this announcement.

Q. I'm wondering how difficult was it to get this deal done in light of a worldwide economic down turn? This is obviously not just affecting the U.S., but Asia as well?
CAROLYN BIVENS: That's a terrific question. I'll go back and say that for Vision 2010, one of the most important aspects of the LPGA cited the equation, and that was being able to think through and plan where we wanted to go over the course of the next few years.

We certainly did not foresee the economic situation that developed last year. I will say that with the acquisition of the other leagues and associations, that J Golf has made over the course of the last few years, the progressive nature of the company and the fact that they want to use the LPGA as they have the other golf properties that crossed their platform, it makes an economic deal something that they can amortize across the corporation.

For us, I think it's like I'm going to echo what Sherri said, it underscores the value of the LPGA, and also the international aspect. One we want to make sure isn't lost in this, it is an international company that, yes, has the rights to the LPGA tournament in South Korea.

But also, they do business in the U.S., and they're extending their footprint here in Southern California.

Q. Obviously so many of your tour number tour members are from Asia. And three of the four tournaments were won by Asian players. I want to get an update from you on the situation that came up last year where there was some talk about the language policy that might be implemented on the tour. Has a final language policy been formulated? And what would it be or how close are you to developing that?
CAROLYN BIVENS: The program and the issue that you're talking about last year, the cross cultural program that the LPGA has had in place now for four years this month. It involves a tutor, Shirley Chen that we've had as part of the Tour, who has done a phenomenal job.

We also have consulted with some of our most senior and well known South Korean players. We also have the partnership with the Rosetta Stone, and, in fact, what was new and what was so controversial was the penalty that we added last year. That was a mistake.

The penalty is not being applied, but the program is very much in play. I saw Shirley earlier this week at tournament site, and she was working 12 hours a day for the entire tournament week. And we may have to bring on another tutor to help Shirley.

So I would say that the outcome to the controversy last year has been good. I will also say we assembled a blue ribbon panel of language experts. People from academics and also from worldwide business leaders who are consulting with them.

Q. Is it still an option that you may fine non English speakers or has that been taken off the table?
CAROLYN BIVENS: What I said is we've removed the penalty?

Q. Just want to clarify that.
CAROLYN BIVENS: I saw Shirley earlier this week at tournament site, and she was working 12 hours a day for the entire tournament week. And we may have to bring on another tutor to help Shirley. So I would say that the outcome to the controversy last year has been good.

I will also say we have assembled a blue ribbon panel of language experts, people from academic, and also from worldwide business leaders who are consulting with us.

Q. Is it still an option for you that you may fine non English speakers or has that been taken off the table?
CAROLYN BIVENS: What I said is we've removed the penalty.

Q. Just wanted to clarify that, thank you. With the last of SBS, is the LPGA looking to come back to Turtle Bay in the future?
CAROLYN BIVENS: We are still engaged in conversation.

Q. SBS officials have gone on the record to say they felt they weren't given a chance to counter J Golf's offer, can you respond to that?
CAROLYN BIVENS: Yes, I will. And I'll say that we have a different opinion.

Q. In sports they say players and teams can build up momentum. Is this a moment where you're building up momentum as you go forward? Is there such a thing in your dealings with what you have to do in the business world?
CAROLYN BIVENS: I actually believe that the LPGA has been building momentum for a few years. I don't think that momentum is a straight line. I think there are bumps and it sort of looks like an EKG chart, if will you. You go up and down as you try to make progress, and as you try to move forward.

I think I've been fortunate from the time that I first came on, Paula (Creamer) was in her sophomore year, Morgan (Pressel) was a rookie, Beth Daniel was we had some majors, Christina Kim, who has added a lot of excitement. It was an unbelievable group of stars.

When you look at this year and the rookie class who has certainly been chronicled and you did a terrific job, I thought the piece today was great.

I think you captured the personality and you added those rookies to those that are out. I think the LPGA has been building momentum.

I think can you point to the world in some of the most difficult economic times in our lifetime. That we're able to show an around the world investment in the LPGA. And the women of the LPGA. So you don't have to take my word for it. You can take the word and the actions of some of the most respected business leaders and companies around the world.

Q. Is there any TBA on the Web site? And how far of reach would that website provide?
CAROLYN BIVENS: The LPGA a couple of years ago added the Japanese LPGA Web site. We built it from the ground up. It's not just a Japanese version of LPGA.com. J Golf will do exactly the same thing in South Korea. So it will be for South Korea.

Q. What does it mean for the title sponsor? Will the title sponsor be required to make an ad buy the way it's currently set up with the PGA TOUR? More models?
CAROLYN BIVENS: And there will be some changes in terms of the advertising units that come with title sponsorship or with presenting sponsorship. I will say that most tournaments want units. There will be much more, because this is not a time buy.

They will not have to use 72 units on a weekend. A whole idea of having the Tour do overall negotiations and to be able to consolidate and find consistent media platforms is it the media partner also wants to maximize the investment for the title sponsor. We become partners.

In a round about way, this helps Sherri underwrite the tournament for the title sponsors. And there is an agreement between the LPGA and the owners association. And actually last year the LPGA turned in almost $2.4 million dollars cash to the tournament owners association, and the deals that we have announced the last two days the tournament owners and title sponsors will, of course share in.

Q. With these two announcements and getting a large portion of the television set up, where are we in terms for Vision 2010? How much more work is there to do?
CAROLYN BIVENS: We needed to get the television deals done to be able to pull the renewals over the line, and finish. We have a number of proposals in front of a lot of respective companies. And we need to get the television deals complete to be able to do that. So calls have been made and presentations have been taking place as we speak.

Q. Is there still a network portion still to come?
CAROLYN BIVENS: Yeah, my apologies. Yes, there is. And within the next two months, hopefully sooner, we will finalize the network deal.

Topics: Press Release

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