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LIV Golf reaches deal to broadcast events on CW Network

LIV Golf reached a multiyear deal to make CW Network the exclusive U.S. broadcast partner of the Saudi-funded professional tour that launched last year with dozens of players, including Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson.

The CW will air the 14 global events of the 2023 LIV Golf League season, starting with one in Mexico from Feb. 24 to Feb. 26.

Saturday and Sunday tournaments will air live on the CW and the CW app, and Friday events will be available on the app, the network said in a press release.

Nexstar Media Group owns 75% of the CW, which is known for airing shows primarily attracting younger audiences. It did not disclose the financial terms of the agreement.

CW Network President Dennis Miller in a press release said the partnership “marks a significant milestone in our goal to re-engineer the network.” He added this was the first time in the company’s history that it had become the exclusive broadcast home for live mainstream sports.

The Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, which is controlled by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has committed at least $2 billion to the golf circuit and also backs LIV’s major tournament sponsor, real estate developer ROSHN.

Until now, LIV has yet to air its matches on a major U.S. network after Apple and Amazon passed on coverage deals. LIV events have been free for viewers online, including Alphabet’s YouTube.

“The CW will provide accessibility for our fans and maximum exposure for our athletes and partners as their reach includes more than 120 million households across the United States,” said LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman in a press release.

The league has struggled to pull in sponsors for its tournaments and critics have accused the Saudi investment fund of “sportswashing” to improve Saudi Arabia’s image.

As its name in Roman numerals suggests, LIV Golf tournaments feature 54 holes instead of the common 72. There are also 12 teams, a total of 48 players and shotgun starts.

In October, the PGA Tour filed a lawsuit against LIV’s Saudi backers in an attempt to force evidence discovery, a continuation of antitrust claims between the rivals.

LIV sued the PGA Tour a month prior alleging anti-competitive practices and monopolistic behavior. In response, the tour countersued LIV Golf, accusing it of interfering with its deals. Tiger Woods reportedly rejected an $800 million offer to join the league.

The PGA Tour previously suspended 17 players for playing in the inaugural LIV Golf tournament in June, which the Saudi-tied tour called an “effort to stifle competition.” LIV’s Norman visited Capitol Hill in September to meet with members of Congress. WSJ

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