Connect with us

International Circuit

Saudi-backed LIV Golf searches for US broadcaster

A new golf league funded by Saudi Arabia is trying to find a high-profile broadcaster to broadcast its matches in the United States as it tries to disrupt the fixed round of the sport.

LIV Golf has been presenting itself to US television companies in a promotion in recent weeks. But the process has been clouded by doubts over the rookie who tore up professional golf this year. LIV is funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, and was awarded to former US President Donald Trump, who hosted a tournament on a New Jersey golf course this summer.

LIV in the past few weeks has held talks with several US broadcasters, including Warner Bros. Discovery and Fox, according to people familiar with the matter. Those people said that as discussions continued, a few potential partners had emerged, including a startup service and a large owner of TV broadcasting stations.

However, some of the biggest broadcasters – such as CBS, NBC and ABC – are not interested in LIV because they already have long-term contracts with the PGA Tour, the leading US golf course that wants to defend its leadership in the sport, according to people familiar with the discussions.

“Obviously a PGA is a PGA, it’s not a strange Saudi thing,” said an executive at a major US broadcaster.

LIV previously contacted Apple, which recently got deeper into the sport with a $2.5 billion deal to broadcast Major League Soccer, but the tech giant did not respond, a person familiar with the matter said.

Finding broadcast partners is critical to establishing LIV as a contender for the PGA Tour, as the two groups clash over the future of golf. LIV wants to disrupt the centuries-old sport, shorten the duration of the games and try to attract younger viewers.

Since the opening season began this summer, LIV has streamed its events for free on YouTube and niche streaming sites like DAZN. But it’s not available to watch on any leading TV channels or streaming services in the United States, the world’s largest sports market and home to millions of golf enthusiasts.

Fox has been rumored to be the most likely venue for the LIV League show as it does not currently broadcast any golf from the PGA Tour. The CEO of LIV, Greg Norman, is an old friend of Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox.

However, the two sides have not advanced the talks substantially since Fox first heard the LIV letter three weeks ago, according to people familiar with the matter.

LIV discussed paying Fox to broadcast his tournaments, Golf Week First reported, it’s the opposite of standard deals in which TV channels pay sports leagues to show their events. This so-called “time-buying” is sometimes used by sports trying to prove themselves by buying airtime.

Buying time was one of several options discussed and no deal was agreed or imminent, people familiar with the matter said. Fox declined to comment.

LIV wants to secure the broadcast deal by the end of this year. She said she was in “active discussions with several companies” for the league broadcast.

A person close to LIV says the group has always viewed this year’s inaugural season as a marketing opportunity to prove its value to potential partners, so it can secure media rights deals for 2023. Time purchases are “common practice” in such scenarios, the person said.

Critics of LIV claim that Saudi Arabia is using sports to try to tarnish its reputation for human rights abuses. “I think you have to live under a rock so you don’t know there are significant ramifications,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in June. Have you ever apologized for being a member of the PGA Tour?

However, golfers like Phil Mickelson joined the LIV Tour, being tempted to pay a $200 million payout.

A person close to LIV said the group did not see any violent reaction to its association with Saudi Arabia. “We’re golf, not government,” the person said.

Golf has historically been a niche sport in the United States, lacking the popular television audiences that American football or basketball attract. The final round of this year’s PGA Championship drew 5.3 million viewers – a tenth of what happened in the NFL Super Bowl and about half of the NBA Finals.

But it is beyond its weight with advertisers because they view it as a way to reach wealthier audiences. BMW and Rolex have long been major golf series sponsors.

Trump pressured players to defect from the PGA Tour and join the LIV, urging golfers to “take the money now” on his social media network, the Truth Social. The series is set to conclude its inaugural season later this month at Trump Doral Golf Course in Florida, with the winning team taking home $16 million. Amolivia

Copyright © 2023.Broadcast and Cablesat

error: Content is protected !!