Was Paul Azinger fired by NBC?
Many believed that was the case Sunday when it was announced that the 2008 Ryder Cup captain would no longer be the lead golf analyst for NBC.
According to sources, Azinger was not fired but was actually in the middle of contract negotiation on a new deal. Parties had agreed on both a schedule for the 2024 season and other terms on a new one-year contract before a formal offer that included the financial terms was presented to the broadcaster.
Those terms were less than Azinger’s current contract on an annual basis that he signed in fall 2018 when he replaced Johnny Miller as lead golf analyst. Azinger decided to counter the offer, which is when he learned from longtime agent Rich Braund that NBC instead decided to go in a different direction and not renew his contract.
“With the golf and media landscapes now in a more challenging environment, Azinger and NBC will part ways as their current contract ends,” Braund said in a statement.
Sam Flood, executive producer and president of production for NBC Sports, made the decision on Azinger but declined to discuss it Monday, instead pointing to NBC’s statement issued on Sunday.
“We want to thank Paul for his work with us over the last five years. His insights, work ethic and relationships in the golf industry are well known, and we appreciate what he brought to our team. We wish Paul the best in his future endeavors,” read the statement.
So, was this a cost cutting move by Comcast-owned NBC?
In the same period of time that the decision was made on Azinger, Comcast-owned Golf Channel let go of 15-year veteran producer Brandt Packer as well as a coordinating and field producer.
The high-profile departures of longtime analysts Roger Maltbie and Gary Koch last year turned out to be just the start of cuts at NBC and Golf Channel. Additional cost cutting in 2023 has included not sending production staff to the Ryder Cup in Italy and instead handling all production from its headquarters in Stamford, Conn., and cuts will continue in 2024.
“Everything they've done is to make the telecast less expensive,” said a source familiar with the operations. “They're not out to make it better for the viewer. There are more commercials, they're cutting speed cameras, cutting drones, they don't have a blimp or an airplane for overhead shots.”
Next week’s Hero World Challenge will take place without Azinger and instead Curt Byrum with be in the lead analyst chair for Tiger Woods's return to competitive golf.
“Everyone says I’ve got big shoes to fill,” Azinger said in 2018 when he replaced Miller at NBC. “I’m not trying to fill anybody’s shoes. The challenge is to be yourself. The action is the action. I don’t mind being blunt. It doesn’t have to be derogatory.”2023-11-21T02:17:41Z dg43tfdfdgfd