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LIV Golf Series Reaches TV Deal With The CW

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LIV Golf, eventually, has a television deal.

The brand new circuit, bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and the catalyst for a yr of turmoil in men’s skilled golf, said Thursday that its 54-hole, no-cut tournaments would air on the CW Network and its app starting next month.

Although the arrangement is a milestone for LIV Golf, whose tournaments last yr were relegated to web streams whilst it showcased stars like Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Cameron Smith, the deal also underscores the circuit’s short-term limitations and the challenges any alternative league faces in gaining entry into the American sports market.

America’s top broadcasters were unlikely candidates for LIV Golf. CBS and NBC appeared unwilling to think about airing its events due to their close ties to the PGA Tour, and Disney-owned ABC was seen as a seemingly improbable landing spot because ESPN, which Disney also controls, streams many tour events. One other potential suitor, Fox, has stepped back from golf coverage lately.

LIV Golf and CW officials didn’t immediately disclose the financial terms of the agreement, but an individual acquainted with the arrangement, who spoke on the condition of anonymity since the contract’s details were confidential, said LIV had not purchased airtime from the network. As a substitute, the person said, the terms offered each side mutual financial advantages.

“Our latest partnership between the CW and LIV Golf will deliver a complete latest audience and add to the growing worldwide excitement for the league,” Dennis Miller, the network’s president, said in a press release. “With CW’s broadcasts and streams, more fans across the country and across the globe can partake within the LIV Golf energy and think about its revolutionary competition that has reimagined the game for players, fans and the sport of golf.”

A Guide to the LIV Golf Series

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A latest series. The debut of the brand new Saudi-financed LIV Golf series has resurfaced longstanding questions on athletes’ moral obligations and their desire to compete and earn money. Here’s what to know:

What’s LIV Golf? The series is an upstart skilled golf circuit bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. Its organizers hope to position it as a player-power-focused alternative to the PGA Tour, which has been the best level of professional golf for nearly a century.

Why is the brand new series controversial? The event has created sparks inside golf for upending the traditions and strictures of how the sport is played. It has also change into a lightning rod for human rights campaigners who accuse Saudi Arabia of using sports to launder its repute.

What’s attracting the players? The LIV Golf events are the richest tournaments in golf history. The primary tournament’s total purse was $25 million, and the winner’s share was $4 million. The last-place finisher at each event was guaranteed $120,000. That’s on top of the looks fees and nine-figure signing-on payouts some players have accepted.

The agreement is a reprieve for LIV, which has spent recent months staring down its skeptics who’ve criticized the brand new tour’s absence of a television deal, its limited attendance at tournaments and the PGA Tour’s retention of lots of the world’s top players. LIV Golf is hoping that its second season, which can begin with a tournament in Mexico in late February, will result in fan and financial breakthroughs, especially because it more fully embraces a model that emphasizes franchises.

In December, when The Latest York Times disclosed a confidential McKinsey & Company evaluation from 2021 that suggested that a Saudi-backed, franchise-filled golf league would face a tough path to profitability and relevancy, a spokesman for the circuit said LIV was “confident that over the following few seasons, the remaining pieces of our business model will come to fruition as planned.”

What we consider before using anonymous sources. Do the sources know the data? What’s their motivation for telling us? Have they proved reliable previously? Can we corroborate the data? Even with these questions satisfied, The Times uses anonymous sources as a final resort. The reporter and a minimum of one editor know the identity of the source.

The McKinsey evaluation considered a television deal an important ingredient for a league’s success and suggested that the concept that became LIV could earn as much as $410 million from broadcast rights in 2028, if it settled into what it called a “coexistence” with the PGA Tour. But when the league remained mired in “start-up” status, the consultants wrote, it could expect not more than $90 million a yr for its broadcast rights in 2028.

In its antitrust case against the PGA Tour, which just isn’t scheduled to go to trial before next January, LIV Golf has used its struggles to secure a television deal as evidence of what it sees because the long-dominant tour’s monopolistic behavior.

The tour, which has television deals that can pay it billions of dollars in the approaching years, has denied wrongdoing. But in a filing in August, LIV Golf’s lawyers asserted that the tour had “compromised” the brand new league’s prospects to succeed in a rights agreement and said that the tour had “threatened sponsors and broadcasters that they have to sever their relationships with players who join LIV Golf, or be cut off from having any opportunities with the PGA Tour.”

LIV also said that CBS officials had said “they can’t touch LIV Golf even for consideration” due to the network’s ties to the PGA Tour. (Paramount Global, which controls CBS, holds a minority stake within the CW. The tour also has a contract with Warner Bros. Discovery, one other minority stakeholder within the CW.)

LIV’s pursuit of a television deal proved more turbulent — or a minimum of more public — than the last time its chief executive, Greg Norman, tried to construct a rival to the PGA Tour. In 1994, when Norman rolled out plans for a latest tour, he had buy-in from Fox, which had prolonged a 10-year commitment. The rebellion ended quickly anyway.

Despite the headwinds this time, Norman had projected confidence for months that LIV would secure some sort of contract. In November, he called a television deal “a priority” and predicted that one could be locked down “very, very soon.”

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