Tuesday October 3, 2023

LIV Golf’s Quest for U.S. TV Partner Continues

  • LIV Golf has had discussions with several networks and streaming platforms, but those talks have yet to lead to a broadcast deal.
  • Industry insiders believe Fox remains the most likely to enter into a deal with the Saudi-backed series.
John Jones/USA TODAY Sports
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LIV Golf has played three events and spent hundreds of millions of dollars to lure some of the sport’s top names away from the PGA Tour. 

But the Saudi-backed rival still hasn’t landed a major media rights deal in the U.S. as it heads to its fourth event in Boston Sept. 2-4 — despite the efforts of former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and actual LIV Golf officials.

LIV has had talks over the last several months with major networks and streaming services in a hunt for a U.S. media rights deal that remains “a priority” for the tour, a person with knowledge of the conversations told Front Office Sports. 

The talks have been with “anybody and everybody,” the source said. FOS previously reported that LIV Golf is seeking as much $500 million for global broadcast rights — and those talks have included networks that currently broadcast the PGA Tour. 

Paramount, the parent company of CBS, is the latest media giant linked to those conversations, first reported by Sports Business Journal

Kushner volunteered to make a call on LIV Golf’s behalf earlier this month, a conversation with a Paramount exec that a source told FOS was “helpful.”

And that wasn’t a one-off conversation with Paramount. There had been others prior. 

CBS, Disney (ESPN+), and NBC Sports/Golf Channel have lengthy deals with the PGA Tour.  But just because networks are PGA Tour partners doesn’t necessarily mean you can cross them off the list, as live sports content remains sought after for both broadcast, cable, and streaming outlets. 

For now, LIV Golf remains a streaming-only proposition in the U.S. on DAZN, YouTube, and Facebook. David Feherty, the outspoken analyst who worked for CBS and most recently with NBC, was hired by LIV Golf in July. 

Industry observers figured Fox would be the most likely landing spot for LIV Golf and there are clear reasons. 

  • Former Fox Sports President David Hill was hired by LIV Golf earlier this year to lead up the series’ production efforts. 
  • LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman may have been lackluster as Fox Sports’ lead golf analyst, but he’s remained friendly with media tycoon and Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch.
  • Fox News personality Tucker Carlson conducted an interview with Norman at LIV Golf’s stop at the Trump-owned course in Bedminster, New Jersey. Combined with Clay Travis, the founder of Fox-owned Outkick, LIV got some of its more favorable coverage to date. 

Fox has had talks, but one industry source told FOS that they haven’t been “substantive.” But sources familiar with how Fox operates said that discussions could be happening with Murdochs without the involvement — or even the knowledge — of Fox Sports’ executives. 

Outside the gates of Bedminster during the LIV Golf event, the 9/11 Justice group protested and president and co-founder Brett Eagleson told FOS they will keep the pressure on. 

“I was on Tucker’s show three or four times,” said Eagleson, whose father died in the terror attacks. “I thought to myself what is going on, Tucker? He was a big supporter of us and our pursuit of justice against the kingdom, and then he has LIV on his show? I think it would be a huge mistake for Fox to get in bed with LIV in any capacity. 

“What they wanted LIV to do, in theory, was to normalize Saudi Arabia, to try to ingratiate themselves to Western society. They thought it would take all the attention away from things like women’s rights abuses, persecuting homosexuals, and the murder of [Washington Post journalist] Jamal Khashoggi. But what LIV has actually done is refocus all that stuff and put more attention on the atrocities committed on 9/11.”

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