LIV Golf set to pay for US television coverage: report

LIV Golf is close to sealing a deal with broadcaster Fox Sports which will see the Saudi-funded circuit pay for coverage on television, a US media report said Wednesday.

A report on Golfweek magazine’s website citing multiple sources said LIV planned to buy time on Fox to air its events.

The report, published late Tuesday, said it was not clear if the deal would take effect for the remaining LIV events this season or if it would begin in 2023.

Any move by LIV to buy airtime would break with the typical convention of sports business, where broadcasters pay sporting bodies for the rights to screen their events.

Golfweek said the move would be “widely interpreted as a failure to attract serious commercial interest in what it is offering.”

The launch of LIV this year plunged golf into crisis, with the circuit sparking a bitter split that threatens to tear the sport apart.

LIV Golf’s record $25 million purses and 54-hole format have attracted several big-name players, including Cam Smith, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson.

However critics say the circuit, funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, is designed to “sportswash” the country’s human rights record.

Earlier this month, LIV golf chief executive Greg Norman said the circuit had received strong interest from multiple media companies regarding coverage.

“We’re talking to four different networks, and live conversations where offers are being put on the table,” Norman told ESPN. “They can see what we’re delivering.”

However Golfweek said multiple broadcasters, including NBC, CBS, Disney, Apple and Amazon had passed on the chance to broadcast LIV events.

A sports television executive quoted by Golfweek said any LIV broadcast would struggle to generate advertising revenue.

“Any advertiser who touches this will get blasted,” the executive was quoted as saying.

“It’s a weak product but it’s a tainted product on top of that.” — Agence France-Presse