LIV Golf, a professional tour launched last year with the backing of the Saudi Arabian government, has finally reached a television deal with the United States.
The Tour signed a multi-year deal with The CW to help the broadcast network move closer to its goal of offering more live sports. Nexstar Media Group acquired majority control of The CW last year, with former 50-50 partners Paramount Global and Warner Bros Discovery each retaining a 12.5 percent stake.
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The exclusive rights deal begins with the 2023 LIV season. The CW will air 14 of the tour’s events over the weekend in 2023 and will stream them live on the CW app, including Fridays. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the rights process has been hampered by the PGA’s close ties to major media companies such as NBCUniversal and CBS parent Paramount. In addition to pushback from PGA Tour veterans such as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, many LIV tournaments have been met with protests from protesters who have branded the effort “sports money laundering” by the Saudi government.
The prospect of playing the LIV Tour from a political standpoint and from a standpoint of alienating the PGA. So far, live online LIV events have attracted only a small audience. All of these factors have prevented bidding heat from becoming an auction similar to other recent auctions in the vibrant sports rights field.
Nexstar, the No. 1 owner of local television in the US, also operates the cable network NewsNation, but is not yet a national media player outside of The CW. The network and parent company see many advantages to the arrangement, even if it means they won’t be airing the PGA Championship anytime soon.
The rights deal “will bring in a whole new audience and add to the growing global interest in the league,” CW president Dennis Miller said. “For The CW, our partnership with LIV Golf marks an important milestone as we aim to reimagine the network to deliver high-quality, diverse programming to our viewers, advertisers and CW affiliates. For the first time in the CW’s 17-year history, the CW will become the exclusive platform to broadcast live mainstream sports.”
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