The United States Golf Association (USGA) is promising a more viewer-friendly experience during the final two rounds of the U.S. Open this weekend, with a significant decrease in commercial interruptions. The move comes after the flagship tournament faced heavy criticism from viewers last year who were furious over the abundance of commercial breaks during the third round of the tournament.
At the time, USGA CEO Mike Whan had heard enough and clapped back at one user's comments on Twitter.
"I'm on it!" Whan tweeted. "We have the best sports production team in the world here with our partner NBC Sports (Olympics, Super Bowl, etc.) and if the amount of interruptions are problematic, we will work with our partner to do better!"
Whan later confirmed that the USGA had come to an agreement with NBC to limit commercial interruptions during the final round of the 2022 U.S. Open. One year later, he's looking to expand on those changes and give the fans what they demanded: More golf.
During his annual press conference ahead of this year's tournament, Whan said the weekend broadcast from Los Angeles Country Club will feature "30% fewer commercial interruptions." It's part of an agreement with NBC that will give fans about an hour of additional coverage over the course of the final two days of the tournament.
"We'll break away from the action 30% less than we were doing a year ago," Whan said. "Exactly how many number of ads that are more or less, I don't know, but I'm not concerned."
Whan also jokingly addressed last year's Twitter outburst, saying sometimes he doesn't realize there's an issue until reading social media comments in the middle of the night.
"This is one of the unfortunate outcomes of your CEO being on Twitter," he said. "I'm sure most of my staff would like me to give up on my social media presence. I'm sure my wife would like me to give up on — she always says, why do you have to read it in the morning that you're an idiot and then go to work? I don't know, somehow it grounds you."
While the new agreement between the USGA and NBC will lead to fewer commercials interruptions over the weekend, Whan said it won't impact the number of advertising dollars the network brings in.
"I'm proud of NBC. They've really cut back on some of their in-broadcast programming. So have we at a similar level," Whan said. "They've got bills to pay and so do we, so I get that."
NBC's coverage of the 2023 U.S. Open still won't feel anything like The Masters — which isn't bound by television rights and offers non-stop coverage. There will still be commercial breaks this weekend. But Whan hopes fans will be much more satisfied with this year's broadcast.
"There will still be millions of people that don't like the commercial interruptions because no matter how low you get it you'll get that feedback," he said. "But yeah, we made an effort between both of us."
Fans will also be able to watch online using a computer or mobile device.
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