Prior to the LIV Golf Invitational Series event outside of Chicago earlier this month, tour CEO Greg Norman told ESPN 1000 Chicago that the Saudi-backed golf tour has generated “enormous” interest from U.S. broadcasters.
“We’re talking to four different networks — and live conversations where offers are being put on the table. Because [the networks] can see the value of our product,” Norman said. “They can see what we’re delivering.”
Apparently, those potential broadcast partners have seen what LIV Golf is bringing to the table and determined that they don’t want a piece of the Saudi-backed series as NBC, CBS, Disney, Apple and Amazon have all declined to partner with the upstart circuit, according to Golfweek. So, at the behest of Lachlan Murdoch, a forced LIV Golf-Fox Sports deal could be in the works following pressure from Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. (Kushner’s private equity firm Affinity Partners, secured $2 billion in funding from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, the same entity that backs LIV Golf, in 2021.)
With Fox Sports initially rejecting to pay a rights fee or to guarantee the new tour a time slot on network television, LIV will reportedly buy time on Fox Sports 1 to air its events with Fox agreeing to re-evaluate placement on a non-cable network at a later date. When LIV Golf events air on FS1, the series will “be responsible for the production of its tournament broadcasts and for selling commercial sponsorships during its time slots,” according to Golfweek. “There were people at Fox who wanted nothing to do with this,” a source told the publication. “They were forced to do it.”
Currently being broadcast on YouTube, LIV Golf has struggled to find an audience and has certainly generated more controversy than viewership thus far.
Speaking about LIV Golf’s inability to lock down a U.S. broadcast partner earlier this month, PGA Tour defector Bryson DeChambeau said that a deal was “coming.”
“This is a beta test,” he said. “I think people forget that we’re only just starting and we’re trying to present this to anybody and everybody that wants to be a part of it. I think that’s what’s beautiful about it, being on YouTube. It’s free to access for anybody that wants to watch it. 180,000 concurrent viewers in that playoff. Over 2 million unique viewers watched. That’s pretty solid. Someone is going to take the dive on us.”
It sounds like someone is going to — but not by choice. With five down, there are three more LIV Golf on tap before year’s end.