LIV Golf, CW agree on broadcast TV deal as battle with PGA Tour continues

The Saudi-backed LIV Golf league and the CW television network have agreed to a broadcast deal prior to the start of the league’s second season.

The CW is owned by Nexstar Media Group Inc.
and is the first TV partner for LIV Golf. The league had previously streamed tournaments through its website or its YouTube channel.

“This is a momentous day for LIV Golf, as this partnership is about more than just media rights,” LIV CEO and Commissioner Greg Norman said in a statement. “The CW will provide accessibility for our fans and maximum exposure for our athletes and partners as their reach includes more than 120 million households across the United States.”

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LIV Golf did not release financial figures for the partnership.

“For the CW, our partnership with LIV Golf marks a significant milestone in our goal to re-engineer the network with quality, diversified programming for our viewers, advertisers and CW affiliates,” CW President Dennis Miller said. “This also marks the first time in the CW’s 17-year history that the network is the exclusive broadcast home for live mainstream sports.”

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LIV Golf was founded by Norman, a former pro golfer, in a move to challenge the PGA Tour and is funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund. Tournaments have been held at golf courses near Boston, Chicago and Miami in the U.S., as well as in Thailand and Saudi Arabia.

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Star golfer Phil Mickelson was reportedly offered $200 million and Dustin Johnson was reportedly offered $150 million just to play in the league. Tournament winnings for LIV Golf events could result in even bigger payments to those golfers. Both golfers accepted those reported offers and currently play in the league.

LIV Golf is considered controversial by some because of its close ties with Saudi Arabia.

According to the U.S. Department of State, Saudi Arabia has been accused in recent years of multiple human-rights violations, including extrajudicial killings; executions for nonviolent offenses; forced disappearances; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners and detainees by government agents; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; and taking political prisoners or detainees.

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Last year, the PGA Tour suspended golfers who joined the LIV Golf series. Those golfers, however, are allowed to play in the three U.S. majors outside of the PGA Championship — the U.S. Open, the Open Championship and the Masters — because those tournaments are not governed by the PGA Tour and have their own organizational and operating bodies.

Sixteen players who compete in LIV Golf are among the 78 players eligible for the 2023 Masters, including Mickelson, Johnson, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Bryson DeChambeau and Charl Schwartzel.

LIV Golf‘s next event, and its first of 2023, will begin on Feb. 24 on Mexico’s Riviera Maya.

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