Cartoon Network cements Turner-PGA deal

PGA will target children through events, products

Never underestimate the power of kids.

Glossed over in media coverage of Turner Sports' recent extension of its TV rights agreement with the PGA of America was the prominent role that the Cartoon Network played in getting the golf organization to re-up.

With Turner just having lost its TV rights to the first two rounds of the British Open Championship beginning next year to ESPN -- this is the last year TNT will have the golf major, which began Thursday -- there were rumblings that TNT was in jeopardy of not having its deal with PGA of America renewed, which would have taken Turner out of the televised golf business after 2011.

But Turner pitched an extension by suggesting that Cartoon Network and Cartoon Network Enterprises, the licensing arm of the network, could work with the PGA to target kids and get them interested in golf at an early age. Now Turner will keep rights to the PGA Championship and the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, which features the winners of the four majors, through 2019.

"Our pitch excited PGA officials, and it helped us extend our TV rights deal with them," said Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports at Turner Broadcasting System.

Under the terms of the deal, Cartoon Network Enterprises, which was formed in 2005, will act as the PGA of America licensing agent to create kid-targeted consumer product lines, including apparel, that will be co-branded. CNE also will create events in various cities targeting kids and work with retail stores to promote the product lines.

Cartoon Network will offer on-air contests and sweepstakes tied into the PGA and run public-service announcements about golf. And Levy said the development of special golf programming could also be part of the deal.

Cartoon also will create online social media platforms aimed at educating kids and attempting to get them interested in playing and watching golf.

"While Turner will continue to showcase PGA's tradition of dramatic championships, we're especially excited about new initiatives in the (Cartoon Network) licensing division and the creation of social media platforms that will help us make the game relevant and interesting to the new generation of golfers," PGA of America CEO Joe Steranka said.

Levy believes that the earlier NBA/Cartoon Network deal and this one with the PGA is something that the other professional sports leagues should look at as a way of bringing young viewers into the tent.