Tuesday, January 10, 2012

USAT Sports Media said in new pact with PGA Tour; reportedly worth up to $5M-ish in annual ad rev

The USA Today Sports Media Group has signed its first deal with a major sports entity: the PGA Tour, according to a report today by trade publication Sports Business Daily.

Under the five-year deal with the non-profit professional golfers association, the trade pub says, according to one of my readers: "USA Today gets a guaranteed ad spend by the PGA Tour, and the Tour will direct its sponsors to spend some of their ad guarantees with USA Today and other Gannett media."

The report continues: Gannett/USAT "hopes to realize from the low-to-mid-seven figures annually in ad revenue from the deal."

According to my reader, Sports Business Daily quotes a source it doesn't identify saying: "This is about bringing USA Today closer to the PGA as a business and a sport and dedicating resources to covering them at a high level. That is how they are approaching every sports property now."

Under Publisher Dave Hunke's reorganization, begun in August 2010, the paper said it would develop more cozy relationships with advertisers. That unidentified source's quote, if true, points to that direction.

As always, the key question is whether the golf writers and editors will feel pressure to deliver even more boosterish coverage of the PGA and its members.

The PGA deal would be the first of its kind disclosed publicly under Sports Media Group President Tom Beusse. He was put in charge of the USAT subsidiary a year ago this month, to knit together all of GCI's sports content from newspapers, TV stations and speciality sites such as HighSchoolSports.net and action sports site BNQT.


  1. "The key question is whether the golf writers and editors will feel pressure to deliver even more boosterish coverage of the PGA and its members."

    I have a feeling that the key question in this discussion was how to get Hunke and Jones onto the course with touring pros more often...

  2. Way to continue your position that any money coming into the company is bad, Jim. Brilliant.

  3. What a great way for the GCI suits to get more personal perks out of this deal.

  4. 8:03 More revenue, clearly, is a good thing. But not at any cost.

    But my goal is to point out the less-obvious information, things you won't find in Corporate's press releases.

  5. There are costs, and then there are costs. Like, the cost to jobs if we didn't have the $5M because (sniff, sniff, nose in the air) "it violated our sense of editorial integrity..."

  6. Beusse's been in the job one year this month. When are we going to see the much-hyped yet-to-launch Gannett Sports Network?

  7. We already have deals with most pro sports leagues : NBA, NFL, MLB. I thought we already had a deal with PGA. Sounds like a PR spin.

    Not sure this is new news.
    Or new revenue.

  8. This deal sounds different than the ad deals with the other leagues. This makes USAT a "preferred supplier".

  9. Beusse has been on the job less than a year and he's already making a huge impact on our brand. I wish I could say the same for the vast majority of the other SVPs, VPS, and Senior Directors we've hired in that time. A bunch of do-nothings. Beusse's the real deal.

  10. 9:10 Where do you draw the line?

    Should the PGA be able to:
    * choose which writers cover the organization?
    * choose which events get covered?
    * decide how stories get "played" -- whether on a section front, with a big promotion on Page One?
    * should it have veto power over some stories?

    These are not merely academic questions. Under the recent American Express deal, the credit card company was able to mandate that all businesses featured in the series had to be Amex merchants.

    And that was never disclosed to readers. This wouldn't have happened not too many years ago -- and still wouldn't happen at publishers with stronger ethics policies.

  11. Gannett faces excruciating competition from online companies that are moving at the speed of light.

    Facebook is a high-profile example of what competitors have accomplished in a 12-month span -- the time that Beusse has spent developing the sports network.

    Mark Zuckerberg and associates launched Facebook in February 2004. By December of that year -- just 10 months later -- the site had already attracted nearly 1 million active users.

  12. And, how has it made $$, or has it? And have all those deals been ethical, above board, something to emulate?

  13. Sounds like you don't know, 12:43. But that doesn't stop you from speculating and accusing. You should fit right in here at Gannett Blog.

  14. 12:43 - I heard in order to make the deal with the PGA, two Sports Media Group execs had to agree to give their next born son as tribute. Geez, c'mon.

  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  16. Buesse is also making 25 hires, so this deal is somewhat of a wash, revenue wise.

    I like this guy, I just don't think he gives a damn about coats or the rest of the operation. I hope I am wrong.

  17. Every year, journalists at Gannett newspapers must sign a "Statement of Principles." Given this arrangement and others, those obviously aren't worth the paper they're printed on. Excerpt ...

    Maintaining independence

    We will remain free of outside interests, investments or business relationships that may compromise the credibility of our news report.

    We will maintain an impartial, arm's length relationship with anyone seeking to influence the news.

    We will avoid potential conflicts of interest and eliminate inappropriate influence on content.

    We will be free of improper obligations to news sources, newsmakers and advertisers.

    We will differentiate advertising from news.

  18. This is just another version of the NFL, NBA, MLB, martial arts, wrestling, NBC Sports, etc. that really only amount to trade -- except now actual content and coverage is considered part of the trade.

  19. Believe me, the only way USA Today gets to be a 'preferred supplier' is through making certain editorial commitments to the PGA, including the timing and amount of coverage during each week. USAT audience and the way PGA is covered already alone don't cut it, apparently. So, the expectation is that this 'preferred supplier' status opens up some revenue doors. But there is certainly a cost, to USA TODAY's oft-quoted (in the past) 'integrity' on coverage being separate from business. But when the entire Sports newsroom reports directly up to this Beusse, who's a business guy...what are you gonna do? Some may argue that this is the way to secure a future with revenue and save the company, but, again, at what cost? Is a news organization that makes such editorial beds really a news organization?

  20. "If true"? As the author I resent that.
    It is true, it is new revenue. The question of buying coverage is valid. Denigrating the source of the story is not.


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