I’ve been blessed to have done a lot of things in a 35 year broadcasting career. I’ve been a disc-jockey, a talk show host, I’ve been a television booth announcer (“Stay tuned next for Wheel of Fortune!”), and I’ve done thousands of radio and television commercials. But the most fun I’ve ever had, was being a play-by-play announcer. In fact, it was the last thing I ever did on radio or TV. And one of the hardest sports in the world to cover, and do it well is golf.
Which is why I can’t understand why in the world, CBS took arguably the world’s best commentator on golf, David Feherty, and let him walk after reaching a contract impasse with him. The once crowned, King of Golf Network, has slumped a long way recently…losing out on the coverage of this weekend’s Deutsche Bank, next weekend’s semi’s in Chicago, and the Fed Ex Cup championship at East Lake in Atlanta to NBC.
NBC has made significant inroads this year…thanks in large part to their Golf Channel property. They’ve been able to cover the “pre-CBS coverage” of weekend rounds on most weekends, as well as handling the Thursday and Friday coverage of the Majors, when CBS is off doing soap operas and daytime talk.
What gets me wondering what happened is the fact that Feherty, who’s been a CBS analyst for 19 years, has a really popular show on the Golf Channel, owned by NBC. One wonders if next season (which starts in three or four weeks), we’re going to be seeing Feherty espousing his wisdom on NBC rather than CBS? That could only foretell future problems for CBS’ coverage of golf. Is NBC out to try to take that lucrative programming away from CBS? I’d think so, much like how Fox took away the NFC and NASCAR from CBS over the years.
The decision to get away from a lot of sports broadcasting isn’t one that is taken lightly. A lot of research goes into that. But what I think CBS sees is the writing on the wall. All sports coverage is down in ratings because of the internet. Why would I want to spend three hours a day on the weekend watching golf, when I can catch up on everything I need in a short span on the internet? I can follow the players I want, and don’t have to follow those I don’t care about. It’s the same thing with NASCAR. You can now go to NASCAR’s website, and get in-car views from any driver you like. Oh, you have to pay for it, but it’s really cheap if you’re a NASCAR fan.
Watch for the same thing to happen to baseball (which used to be a weekend staple when I was growing up, but now is relegated to regional sports networks and MLB), and football, whose coverage with the NFL Network is improving, and also has the “Red Zone” coverage…a show designed to cover only scores and teams in the red zone. Broadcast television is becoming a thing of the past. Slowly, surely, and certainly.
Fortunately for guys like David Feherty, he’ll have a place for as long as he wants it.