After a rocky launch, the LIV Golf tour is closing in on its first US national TV deal.
A familiar interviewer told The Hollywood Reporter that the Saudi Arabia-backed golf tour was “very close” to TV deal) The CW, the broadcast network now owned by local TV giant Nexstar. Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount also hold small stakes in the network.
The exact details of the deal are unclear (after initially charging royalties to other leagues and tours such as the PGA, NBA and NFL, LIV is said to be open to more revenue sharing mode), but still marks a major move for the tour, which has been locked in a bitter public battle with the PGA for the past year or so.
The CW had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.
LIV has spent huge sums to attract top PGA Tour talent like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau to use its own products and host events (including at Donald Trump in New Jersey) and tweaked the format to try and appeal to a younger crowd.
But the PGA hit back, telling broadcast partners (including NBC, Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery) that any deal with LIV could affect future negotiations with the PGA. PGA’s biggest TV show, Tiger Woods launches his own company that will produce prime-time golf events for TV, just for PGA golfers Open (and presumably their TV partners).
SportsBusiness Magazine First reported that The CW might make a logical TV home for LIV last year. Golf analyst David Feherty who has worked on LIV Golf’s YouTube broadcasts has previously hinted that a deal with CW may be in the works Medium.
For The CW, LIV offers a flavor of live sports, a genre that the network has been lacking. As previously reported by Lesley Goldberg of THR, the CW expects only Three American scripted original series coming next season, including the recently renewed All American .
But consider the league’s stark feud with the PGA, and its supporters in the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
Still, for Nexstar, LIV Golf would be one of the first major programming moves since acquiring the network and could offer a window into the company’s plans, suggesting a more open The One appeals to an older male audience and is another shift from its past as a staple of scripted fare.
Lesley Goldberg contributed reporting.