Sale marks just the third ownership change since Golf Digest’s founding in 1950
By Sam Weinman
For only the third time in its history, Golf Digest has a new owner. The sale from Condé Nast to Discovery, Inc., the media company best known for its suite of real-life entertainment networks like Discovery Channel, HGTV, and the Food Network, and which has successfully expanded into golf, was completed on Monday U.S. time.
Licensee Golf Digest Middle East is published regionally by Motivate Media Group.
In joining forces with Discovery’s GOLFTV, the company’s new live and on-demand video streaming service, Golf Digest now stands to reach more golfers in more ways, and in greater depth, than ever before.
“Golf Digest is a world-class brand that has become the go-to authority for millions of golf enthusiasts, professional players and global advertisers,” said Discovery, Inc. President and CEO David Zaslav. “It’s a natural strategic fit with Discovery’s goal to be the leading golf media platform in the world.”
The sale is the result of a nine-month process that began when Conde Nast, which bought Golf Digest in 2001, announced a strategic shift to focusing on its core brands in style and culture, allowing Golf Digest to pursue new ownership. Along the way we received interest from a wide spectrum of suitors in and outside of both golf and media, but it was Discovery’s ambitious plans to create a “digital home of golf” that seemed an ideal match from the start. Along with landing PGA Tour rights outside the U.S. for the next 12 years last June, GOLFTV has secured rights to the European Tour, the Ladies European Tour and the Masters in select markets, and has also struck exclusive content partnerships with Tiger Woods and Open champion Francesco Molinari.
In recent years, Discovery has made significant commitments in other sports, most notably through its 2014 purchase of Eurosport. Last year, the company broadcast the Winter Olympics to 76 million users across digital platforms, and believes golf presents a similar opportunity to attract a passionate international audience.
“What acquiring Golf Digest does for us is it provides an unparalleled level of expertise, authority, access, and credibility around the game that we don’t have today. As simple as that sounds, it’s a game changer,” said Alex Kaplan, President and General Manager of Discovery Golf. “You don’t build a worldwide presence as the preeminent authority in golf overnight, so the ability to acquire that level of knowledge and integrate into what we’ve built, and more importantly what we’re planning on building all over the world is incredibly exciting.”
Under Discovery’s ownership, Jerry Tarde continues to oversee Golf Digest as Editor-in-Chief and also adds the title of Global Head of Strategy and Content, Discovery Golf.
“Discovery’s vision to create one global destination for everything a golf fan could want is perfectly aligned with what Golf Digest does every day,” said Tarde, who has been the top editor at Golf Digest since 1984. “As we look to the future, Discovery’s global scale and ability to light up content on all platforms and in every language will benefit golf and golfers worldwide.”
On many levels, Golf Digest’s objectives remain the same. We’ll still produce a monthly print magazine committed to the best advice on how to play, what to play and where to play, along with features on the most compelling personalities and issues in golf. GolfDigest.com will still be the robust mix of golf news, culture, and how-to instruction that makes it the most popular website in the game.
Elsewhere, enormous opportunity awaits. A little more than a year ago we launched Golf Digest Schools, a premium platform in which the leading teachers in golf provide detailed video instruction tailored to the specific needs of students. With Discovery’s deep experience in streaming video and with its PGA Tour partnership, Golf Digest will add immense capability for delivering expanded content to golfers in innovative ways, and to a broader audience that extends into 220 markets and territories.
“Discovery is invested in all things digital. It’s a big part of how we’re expanding our business, and golf is one of the key verticals we’re investing in heavily,” Discovery’s Kaplan said. “We’ll be able to bring golf content from the preeminent golf source onto platforms we know golf fans and consumers in general are spending an increasing amount of time on.”
The Discovery purchase also allows for a reunion of sorts with Woods, the 15-time major champion who served as a Golf Digest Playing Editor for more than a decade earlier in his career and whose new content partnership with Discovery has already resulted in some compelling exchanges with GOLFTV’s Henni Zuel.
“I couldn’t be more excited about Discovery’s acquisition of Golf Digest,” Woods said in a video statement. “It gives Discovery and GOLFTV an amazing platform in the U.S. for me to tell my story to the fans and make my partnership with Discovery even stronger. The power of Golf Digest and Discovery’s vision of powering people’s passions is great for the game of golf.”
The move to Discovery, Inc. comes as Golf Digest prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary next year. The magazine was founded by William H. Davis in 1950 in Evanston, Ill. He was later joined by his fellow Northwestern University classmates Howard R. Gill Jr. and Jack Barnett. The three alternately traded jobs as editor, publisher and business manager before selling Golf Digest in 1967 to The New York Times Co., which in turn sold it to Condé Nast in 2001.
The Discovery acquisition will also feature the introduction of a new sales structure in which Golf Digest and the PGA Tour will combine to create a one-stop digital network in which advertisers can engage with fans across Golf Digest, PGA Tour, and GOLFTV platforms.
The official press release of the sale is below.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Discovery, Inc. Acquires Golf Digest From Condé Nast
Creating the largest digital golf media business in the U.S. in partnership with the PGA TOUR
Golf Digest’s multi-platform content to be distributed globally on GOLFTV streaming service
Golf Digest Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde to Join Discovery Golf
NEW YORK, May 13, 2019 – Discovery, Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) announced today it has acquired Golf Digest from Condé Nast. Golf Digest is the world’s No. 1 golf media brand and will extend Discovery’s global golf media business to the U.S. market through Golf Digest’s multiplatform distribution and reach.
The acquisition creates a powerful programming engine for GOLFTV powered by PGA TOUR, adding world-renowned Golf Digest content to a platform that is built on competition coverage from the PGA TOUR, European Tour, and the Ladies European Tour, as well as the Masters Tournament in select territories outside the U.S. and Discovery’s exclusive global content partnerships with Tiger Woods, winner of 81 PGA TOUR events and 15 major championships, and Francesco Molinari, winner of 10 pro events worldwide and the reigning Open champion.
The addition of Golf Digest boosts Discovery’s global golf ecosystem with a leading platform in the U.S., and will now reach golf fans with everything associated with the game, including instructional videos, equipment advice, course rankings, travel destinations, online bookings and more.
Additionally, Discovery and the PGA TOUR are expanding their groundbreaking 12-year strategic partnership with a new content and sales relationship in the U.S., among other initiatives. The organizations will join forces to create the largest digital network in golf with a one-stop activation platform now including Golf Digest, for advertisers to engage with fans and players, across a full suite of editorial coverage, live and on-demand video streaming, digital, social, print and branded content opportunities. The current Golf Digest sales teams will continue to be responsible for ad sales during a transition period until the Discovery / PGA TOUR sales integration is complete.
David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery, Inc. said: “Golf Digest is a world-class brand that has become the ‘go-to’ authority for millions of golf enthusiasts, professional players and global advertisers. It’s a natural strategic fit with Discovery’s goal to be the leading golf media platform in the world through our investments with the PGA TOUR, the European Tour and our partnership with Tiger Woods. We wanted to bolster GOLFTV’s international offerings with Golf Digest’s award-winning journalism, broad consumer reach and deep content library while also creating the largest U.S. digital golf business with Jay Monahan and the PGA TOUR. They have been great partners, and we are excited to deepen the opportunity to bring these amazing players and all of their terrific play to more people on more devices in every market in the world.”
Rick Anderson, Chief Media Officer, PGA TOUR, said: “We’re thrilled to deepen our partnership with Discovery, as well as Golf Digest, which has been an official marketing partner of the PGA TOUR since 2006. By combining our assets in the U.S., we’re now able to offer the most robust digital content and product offering for fans, golfers and TOUR partners. The new PGA TOUR / Golf Digest digital network will be the single largest golf network offering unrivalled breadth and depth of content across platforms.”
Discovery will seek to optimise its exclusive global partnership with Tiger Woods across both Golf Digest and PGA TOUR platforms. GOLFTV is collaborating with Woods on a range of content, such as deep-dive instruction to help players improve their game, which began filming last month, and exclusive access to his tournament preparation. The unique collaboration offers an authentic look into the life, mind and performance of the game’s ultimate icon.
Tiger Woods said: “This is an important step in enhancing and expanding the U.S. and global reach of Discovery and GOLFTV. It gives me another platform to tell my story directly to fans and makes my partnership with Discovery even stronger. This acquisition, along with what Discovery and GOLFTV have already done with the PGA TOUR, is great for the game of golf.”
Alex Kaplan, President and General Manager, Discovery Golf, said: “This is a big deal for Discovery to add Golf Digest to our golf portfolio. Adding Golf Digest to GOLFTV and our existing PGA TOUR, European Tour, Tiger and Francesco content will be a big win for the sport. We are offering something unique, whether you’re a fan, player, viewer, brand or advertiser. We can utilize the strengths of both Golf Digest and our burgeoning GOLFTV platform, establishing a global editorial powerhouse delivering content across all platforms to engage and inspire millions of passionate golf fans around the world.”
Golf Digest’s award-winning editorial content, including news, instructional videos, and rankings, as well as tentpoles such as ‘100 Greatest Course Rankings’ and its annual ‘Hot List,’ will drive engagement for GOLFTV around the world, provide opportunities for Discovery to leverage its golf content in the U.S. and bring more exciting opportunities to partner the PGA TOUR and all the world-class players.
Discovery will seek to leverage its global scale, with reach into 220 markets and territories, to further grow the Golf Digest brand around the world. Golf Digest, which earns nearly half of its revenues from digital advertising, will continue to publish a U.S. monthly print magazine and Discovery will assume the global licenses for editions serving nearly 70 countries.
Golf Digest’s editorial team will join Discovery Golf under the continued leadership of Jerry Tarde, as Editor-in-Chief, Golf Digest, and Global Head of Strategy and Content, Discovery Golf. In addition to overseeing the world-class editorial content of Golf Digest, Tarde will expand his purview to include GOLFTV and report to Alex Kaplan, President and General Manager, Discovery Golf.
Jerry Tarde, Editor-in-Chief, Golf Digest, and Global Head of Strategy and Content, Discovery Golf, said: “Golf Digest has this amazing team of editors, reporters, producers, photographers and contributors – all dedicated to helping golfers improve and be smarter consumers of the game we love. Discovery’s vision to create one global destination for everything a golf fan could want is perfectly aligned with what Golf Digest does every day. As we look to the future, Discovery’s global scale and ability to light up content on all platforms and in every language, combined with the PGA TOUR’s brand, will benefit golf and golfers worldwide.”
Kaplan added, “A critical piece is Golf Digest’s people. We’re thrilled to welcome aboard Golf Digest’s world-class team and its Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Jerry Tarde, who is widely considered the dean of golf journalism.”
Golf Digest reaches millions every month across all platforms:
• 60 million video views
• 4.8 million readers
• 4.8 million digital uniques
• 2.2 million social followers
More information regarding Golf Digest can be found here. Fans can find out more about GOLFTV and subscribe by visiting GOLFTV. Access to live coverage and on-demand content is available on mobile and online via GOLF.TV and the GOLFTV app.
Greenhill & Co. served as financial advisor and Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP as legal advisor to Condé Nast. Proskauer Rose LLP served as legal advisor to Discovery, Inc.