In surprise move, The CW gets LIV Golf broadcast rights in U.S.
By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links
This deal means that CW will air live sports for the first time in its history, though LIV will reportedly still handle all of the production in-house.
According to an ESPN report, the financial terms of the agreement were not announced, but sources told the outlet that it is being done as a revenue-share partnership, as opposed to The CW getting an upfront payment in exchange for most or all of the ad time, which it would then sell in hopes of recouping the fee it would have paid.
On the flip side, The CW won’t have to incur any production costs.
“This is a momentous day for LIV Golf as this partnership is about more than just media rights,” LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman said in a statement. “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. We’re very proud to note how consequential it is that a league that has only existed for one year has secured a full broadcast deal in its debut full league season.”
LIV Golf is expected to debut on The CW Feb. 24, 2023. The league still has to finalize the rest of the season’s schedule and venues, though 14 tournaments are expected.
Plans reportedly call for the first round to stream exclusively on The CW app, with the second and third round of each tournament airing Saturdays and Sundays on the network and app.
Prior to this year, LIV Golf was available only via streaming as a standalone offering in the U.S. In select other countries, LIV inked deals with overseas streamers or broadcasters.
LIV Golf has several elements unique to both its gameplay and on-screen presentation, including statistics-driven graphics, the use of drones for aerial shots and a faster pace than traditional golf presentations.
Such a strategy could fit well with The CW’s overall goal of gearing its programming toward younger viewers, who may find the data-driven presentation and faster pace more to their liking.
LIV Golf, which is headed by former pro golfer Norman, has come under fire for its financial backing from Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund. Many see the entire venture as a way for the country to improve its image in the mind of viewers despite its track record on alleged corruption and human rights abuses.
LIV has also received investments from other big names in U.S. golf.
U.S. pro golfers who signed on to play in the league faced stiff reaction from the PGA Tour, citing membership rules that member golfers could not play in other leagues.
This led to several key names resigning from the PGA. It was widely reported that LIV Golf is paying golfers significant sums of money to participate in the league — some deals were reportedly as high as $150 million.
The league reportedly offered Tiger Words “high nine figures” to sign on, but he ultimately declined.