Saudi-funded LIV Golf on Tuesday refuted a report that it was close to a US television deal that would buy it time to be shown on FS1.
Golfweek quoted multiple sources in a story published Tuesday evening that it failed to identify, saying the deal is still being finalized.
It would go against what Greg Norman, the CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf, told a radio station in Chicago two weeks ago when he said, “We’re talking to four different networks and having live talks putting offers on the table. They can see what we deliver.”
LIV Golf issued a statement that Golfweek’s report was “incomplete and inaccurate” and that it is ahead of schedule in its inaugural year, including things like broadcast rights.
“As we have previously stated, LIV Golf has only just begun its process and is in active discussions with several companies about broadcasting the LIV Golf League,” the statement said. “We warn that no one should draw any conclusions about possible media rights, as we are still in the middle of negotiations with several outlets.”
Fox Sports declined to comment.
Networks typically pay a rights fee to broadcast a sport. The PGA Tour, for example, kicked off this year with an expanded media rights deal for its tournaments shown on CBS, NBC, Golf Channel and ESPN+. The nine-year deal is worth an estimated $7 billion.
Golfweek reported that LIV Golf would pay for the timeslot and would be responsible for production costs and any ads to sell. In some time purchase cases, the deal includes a few promotional spots to let viewers know when it airs.
But any deal, even a temporary purchase, would give LIV Golf what it desperately needs: TV viewers on a US linear channel. The league has already paid huge entry fees – some reported in the $150 million range – to attract players, and each tournament offers $25 million in prize money. It has no visible business support.
Bringing in the major networks seemed likely due to their existing similarities to the PGA Tour and the animosity between the rival circuits, along with the source of the deep pockets of LIV Golf – Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund – that sparked protests among some. . tournaments held in the United States over the summer.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Apple and Amazon were not interested.
LIV Golf has only been shown on its YouTube channel, Facebook and its website, and the viewership has been modest.
The series will play in Thailand and Saudi Arabia next month before closing its inaugural season near Miami for a $50 million team championship. The 54-hole event has been moved to a Sunday closure.
It was not clear whether an October 28-30 television deal would begin in Miami or wait until 2023, when LIV Golf has said it would have a full schedule. The schedule for 2023 will probably not be released until November.
If the time commitment is with FS1, there could be issues with September and October when the cable network has a steady diet of college football on Saturdays.
Golfweek reported that LIV wanted a rights fee for the second year of a deal and a guaranteed timeslot, but Fox wasn’t interested.
Launched in early June, LIV Golf now boasts 12 of the top 50 players in the world rankings, most notably Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Cameron Smith, who officially joined a month after winning the Open Championship. LIV Golf.
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