PGA Tour and Sony developing 3D broadcasts

At his end-of-year press conference, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem defended the Tour’s health amid reports of “doom and gloom” tied to Tiger Woods’ scandal.

Though he conceded an indefinite absence of the Tour’s marquee player would affect the circuit, Finchem maintained the Tour would be “successful” in 2010 whether Woods was out for “two or eight months.”

Much of Finchem’s optimism comes from several sponsorship deals the Tour executed even in the midst of the recession. He capped off those achievements by announcing Thursday two additional business developments: the extension of BMW’s title sponsorship of the BMW Championship through 2014, and a new strategic partnership with Sony that is designed to bring 3D television coverage to the PGA Tour.

At the Sony Open in 2010, the electronics company will showcase on-site a sample of a 3D golf broadcast to show “what 3D quality coverage can mean,” Finchem said. He added that the goal is to transmit live 3D broadcasts as early as 2011.

In addition, Finchem said he soon plans to finalize another multi-year relationship with long-time partner Coca Cola. The Southern Co. also extended its sponsorship of the Tour Championship for another six years.

Among the other previously announced deals that have helped solidify the Tour’s schedule:

• Extension of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship

• Extension of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans through 2014

• Extension of the WGC- Bridgestone Invitational through 2014

• Extension of the Travelers Championship through 2014

• Addition of the HSBC Championship

Though the Tour lost Buick’s sponsorship and its long-established event, the Buick Open, it has replaced it with a new event at the historic Greenbrier Resort.

The recession’s toll on key sponsor categories – particularly automakers – means the Tour still has holes to plug. At least three tournaments are without title sponsors – Bob Hope Classic, San Diego Open and the Tour’s Memphis stop – but will be staged in 2010. And based on discussions with potential sponsors, Finchem expressed confidence that the Bob Hope and San Diego events soon will find backers.

“I’m not concerned about those tournaments long term,” Finchem said. “Activation won’t be an issue.”

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