LIV Golf, the Saudi-backed breakaway golf tour now entering its second season, has at last reached a television deal to broadcast its tournaments. Starting in February, LIV tournaments will be on The CW, a cable network available in 120 million U.S. homes.
This marks the first entry into live sports for The CW. Fridays of LIV’s three-day tournaments will be shown on CW’s app, while Saturdays and Sundays will be broadcast on the network.
The exact financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a LIV source confirmed to Yahoo Sports that the deal is “not a time buy” — LIV is not paying CW to air its tournaments — and the “agreement is mutually financially beneficial to both parties.” Sports Illustrated has reported that LIV will share revenues from advertising with the CW and will be heavily involved in the promotion of the broadcasts.
The CW’s majority owner is Nexstar Media Group, which owns about 200 small stations across the United States. Paramount and Warner Media maintain small stakes in the company. The CW ranked 25th among broadcast networks in the United States in 2022 prime-time viewing, according to Nielsen audience ratings.
LIV drew plenty of media coverage, thanks to its controversial funding source — the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia — and its high-profile defections from the PGA Tour, as well as its adversarial stance to golf’s traditional way of doing business. Without a broadcast partner, LIV was forced to stream its tournaments on YouTube and Facebook to tiny audiences. A broadcast partner gives LIV more exposure, which could lead to more viewership, more sponsorship and a more viable business model than one entirely dependent on Saudi Arabia’s resources.
LIV’s in-house team will continue to produce its broadcasts. Longtime golf commentator David Feherty will lead LIV’s broadcasts, which feature a distinctive shotgun start and a Formula 1-style ranking ladder along the left side of the screen.
The 2023 LIV season begins the last weekend of February at El Camaleón Golf Course in Mayakoba, Mexico.
Contact Jay Busbee at [email protected] or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.