Professional golf is set to return on June 11 this year. While the sport will look different, sports fans will be likely be delighted to see live sports once more.
How will the PGA ensure player safety? League officials will test players and all other tournament attendees daily. Rapid testing will be used to limit delays and uncertainty.
Fans still will not be able to attend events, which will hurt ticket sales and the surrounding local economies that usually rely on fans for business. In contrast, the owners of PGA broadcasting rights, ViacomCBS (NASDAQ: VIAC) and Comcast (CMCSA -2.25%), should rebound immediately.
These iconic companies are free from the fragile dependency on fans in the stands; they simply need the events to be played and people to watch on their screens.
Comcast and ViacomCBS pay a combined $400 million annually for the right to air professional golf events. While that contract today looks unappealing, historic television ratings for UFC, NASCAR, and specialty golf events all offer ancillary evidence of strong ratings for golf in June.
Both entertainment corporations lean on sports content rights to differentiate their offerings from competition such as Netflix. Today, content creators without sports are relative beneficiaries compared to companies paying to air live events not played. The return of the PGA would be a welcome step in the right direction for a return to normalcy, and a leveling of the playing field for ViacomCBS and Comcast. That return appears to be close.