|Launched||January 17, 1995|
|Owned by||NBC Sports Group|
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
The Golf Channel|
NBC Sports Regional Networks
|Dish Network||Channel 401|
|Shaw Direct (Canada)||
Channel 409 (SD)|
Channel 266 (HD)
|Available on most North American cable systems||Channel slots vary on each operator|
Channel 641 (SD)|
Channel 1641 (HD)
Channel 93 (SD)|
Channel 593 (HD)
|Bell Fibe TV (Canada)||
Channel 416 (SD)|
Channel 1415 (HD)
|TELUS TV (Canada)||
Channel 116 (SD)|
Channel 668 (HD)
Channel 656 (3D)
|VMedia (Canada)||Channel 76 (HD)|
|Sling TV||Internet Protocol television|
|PlayStation Vue||Internet Protocol television|
|DirecTV Now||Internet Protocol television|
Golf Channel is an American pay television network owned by the NBC Sports Group subsidiary of NBCUniversal division of Comcast. The channel focuses on coverage of the sport of golf, including live coverage of tournaments, as well as factual and instructional programming. Founded in Birmingham, Alabama, the channel's headquarters and studios are currently located in Orlando, Florida. Golf Channel is available in the United States, Canada, Latin America and Southeast Asia through subscription television providers
As of February 2015, Golf Channel is available to approximately 79,250,000 pay television households (68.1% of households with television) in the United States.
The idea of a 24-hour golf network came from media entrepreneur Joseph E. Gibbs of Birmingham, Alabama, who first thought of such a concept in 1991. Gibbs felt there was enough interest in golf among the public to support such a network, and commissioned a Gallup Poll to see if his instincts were correct. With the support of the polling behind him, Gibbs and legendary golfer Arnold Palmer then secured $80 million in financing from several cable television providers to launch the network, which was among the first subscription networks developed to cover one singular sport.
Announced in February 1993, the launch date was targeted for May 1994; and it was launched on January 17, 1995, with a ceremonial flip of the switch by co-founder Arnold Palmer. The first live tournament the channel televised was the Dubai Desert Classic, held January 19-22. Originally a premium channel with limited subscribers, it retooled in September 1995 to be part of basic-tier pay TV to reach more viewers and ratings rapidly increased. Cable television company Comcast became the majority owner in 2000 and the full owner of the channel in 2003.
In December 2006, it was announced that Golf Channel had acquired pay television rights to the PGA Tour as part of a new 15-year contract. The contract included early-round coverage of all official money events, as well as full rights to early-season and Fall Series events.
In January 2011, Comcast acquired a 51% majority stake in NBC Universal from General Electric. As a result of the re-alignment of Comcast's existing properties into NBC Universal, Golf Channel and sister sports network Versus were subsumed by a restructured NBC Sports division. On-air synergies between NBC's existing production unit began to take effect in February 2011 at the WGC Match Play Championship, when NBC's golf telecasts took on the Golf Channel branding as "Golf Channel on NBC", in a similar manner to ESPN's co-branding of sports output on ABC. NBC Sports personalities could now appear on Golf Channel, and former NBC Sports senior vice president Mike McCarley took over as the network's new head. The network also adopted an amended logo featuring the NBC peacock.
In December 2013, Golf Channel unveiled a new logo, implemented in May 2014 to coincide with the 2014 Players Championship. The new logo replaces the "swinging G" emblem that had been used since the network's launch with a wordmark alongside the NBC peacock. The new logo was meant to provide a unified brand across Golf Channel's associated properties and services.
On June 8, 2015, it was announced that NBC Sports had acquired rights to The Open Championship beginning in 2017 under a 12-year deal; after former broadcaster ESPN opted out of the final year of rights, NBC began coverage in 2016 instead. Early round coverage is aired by Golf Channel, which marked the first time ever that Golf Channel had ever broadcast one of the four Men's major golf championships. On May 3, 2016, NBC announced that Golf Channel would air the bulk of the men's and women's golf tournaments for the 2016 Summer Olympics, covering up to 300 hours of the tourney, with 130 of those hours live.
In 2016, Golf Channel acquired the World Long Drivers Association, organizer of the World Long Drive Championships; coverage of its events were subsequently added to the network. In 2017, Golf Channel acquired Revolution Golf, an online provider of golf instructional materials.
In January 2007, Comcast launched Versus/Golf HD, a 1080i high definition channel featuring programming from both Golf Channel and sister network Versus. Golf Channel programming was broadcast during the daytime hours, and Versus programming was broadcast during the evening and primetime hours. In December 2008, full-time HD feeds of Golf Channel and Versus were launched to replace the split channel.
Golf Channel is the pay television rightsholder of the PGA Tour, broadcasting live coverage of early rounds, and early window coverage of weekend rounds prior to network television coverage. Some events (particularly, early-season events such as the former Fall Series, and alternate events held against majors) are broadcast in their entirety by Golf Channel. Golf Channel also broadcasts primetime encores of the day's coverage, including network television broadcasts from NBC or CBS where applicable. Golf Channel also broadcasts coverage of PGA Tour Champions and Web.com Tour events. Outside of events organized by the PGA Tour, Golf Channel also carries coverage of the European Tour, LPGA Tour, and Asian Tour.
Golf Channel has also carried coverage of the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup alongside NBC, and the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's golf championships. It formerly served as a secondary subscription partner of the United States Golf Association, broadcasting coverage of its amateur tournaments (pay-TV rights to the USGA's Open tournaments were owned by ESPN, but Golf Channel-produced coverage of these events were carried by its main rightsholder NBC until their acquisition by Fox Sports in 2015). Beginning in 2016, Golf Channel broadcasts early-round coverage of The Open Championship, and participates in NBCUniversal's coverage of the Summer Olympics by covering its golf competitions.
In April 2018, two non-golf, ice hockey events were scheduled on Golf Channel as overflow for NHL on NBC coverage of the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs, due to programming conflicts with USA Network and CNBC.
The Golf Channel uses a number of people for tournament, news and instructional programming.
For the month of October 2013, Golf Channel averaged a daily viewership of 84,000.
A British version of the channel called Golf Channel UK was operated by sporting goods retailer JJB Sports, and was available on the BSkyB satellite service. It broadcast many of the programs seen on the U.S. channel, but was unable to attract a viable audience as it offered few live golf tournaments; the channel shut down on December 31, 2007. All the major tours have most of their main broadcasting contracts in UK with Sky Sports. Setanta Golf also held rights before its closure and BBC Sport also covers major tournaments each year.
The Latin American version of the Golf Channel was launched in 2006 as a DirecTV joint venture, and was acquired from DirecTV by former DirecTV executives Jason Markham and Evan Grayer together with Inversiones Bahia in 2018. The channel broadcasts professional tournaments from the PGA Tour, PGA Tour Latinoamérica, European Tour and LPGA Tour with Spanish-speaking journalists, as well as Golf Central and other English-language shows.