Saudi-Backed LIV Golf On Verge Of Securing US Broadcast Deal
By Andy Fry
LIV Golf, the controversial Saudi-backed professional golf league, looks like it is on the verge of securing its first major broadcast rights deal in the US. Perhaps surprisingly, it is with youth-oriented US network, The CW, not known for sports output.
The possibility of a deal was first rumoured last week – and is still yet to be confirmed. But there is growing expectation that it will be announced in the coming days.
Golf icon Greg Norman, who has been a key architect in the creation of the LIV concept, has said that it is critical for the franchise’s business plan to get on TV in the US. But until now LIV has struggling to find a partner. At the end of last year there were rumours it would air on Fox Sports, but these were flatly denied by LIV.
The current expectation is that That CW will not pay a rights fee for its coverage of the LIV competition, similar to the situation that reportedly exists with international media partners like DAZN. This month, there have also been reports that LIV is looking to give away rights in the UK. Clearly, the ambition is to grow fan interest in LIV before seeking to monetise coverage in later contract cycles. For many sports properties this would not be feasible, but the depth of LIV’s financial backing from Saudi Arabia means it can continue building the franchise without pressure to monetise too quickly.
From a CW perspective, the decision to embrace the tour is interesting. The channel was recently acquired by Nexstar, which may have plans to shift its position.
LIV has ruffled feathers in the golfing world, and has been subjected to a legal suit by the PGA Tour. The coming season is its second, after launching in 2022.