LIV Golf has its long-awaited television partner, a large affiliate network in the United States that has no other sports programming but will offer the controversial league a large platform to show its product.
The CW Network—the C is for CBS, the W for Warner Media—has entered into a multi-year agreement to televise LIV Golf tournaments including this year’s 14-tournament schedule that begins late next month in Mexico.
Sports Illustrated reported earlier this week that an agreement was near, and the two sides jointly announced the deal on Thursday, one that will not see LIV Golf get paid a traditional rights fee but that the league says is “mutually financially beneficial.”
That basically means that while LIV Golf will not be paid up front for the rights to its broadcasts, it will share advertising revenue with the CW and will also likely be expected to shoulder a good bit of promotional work. The deal is believed to be for at least three years with the possibility of a rights fee being paid after two years.
Various reports had LIV Golf close to a deal late last year with Fox Sports that would have seen a “time buy” from LIV Golf, meaning it would pay the network a fee to broadcast its tournaments and attempt to sell advertising revenue on its own.
The events will also be streamed live on the CW app.
“This is a momentous day for LIV Golf as this partnership is more than just media rights,’’ said Greg Norman, LIV’s CEO and commissioner, 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. We are very proud to note how consequential it is that a league that has only existed for one year has secured a full broadcast deal in its debut full league season.”
The CW is a national network that is in some 220 U.S. markets via local affiliates. It was the 21st-most watched last year in the U.S. for average prime time viewing.
Nexstar Media Group, which owns nearly 200 local television stations in the U.S., purchased a 75 percent stake in the CW Network last year. Paramount (CBS) and Warner Media (Discovery) still retain minority stakes in the company.
The trick for LIV Golf will be getting golf fans to the CW Network, which has no other sports properties and is mostly comprised of syndicated programming, including a bevy of courtroom shows and reruns of various TV sitcoms and dramas. There is also local programing in various markets, including live news broadcasts and web coverage.
LIV Golf played its inaugural invitational series of eight events in 2022 strictly via streaming via YouTube and its own website. Despite enormous production costs—which LIV Golf will still cover as part of this arrangement—the viewing numbers were poor, despite LIV’s desire to reach a younger demographic, per its motto “Golf, But Louder.”
With shotgun starts and 48-player fields, LIV Golf promoted the idea of showing all of the players numerous times in a five-hour window.
The broadcast team that worked the 2022 events will return, led by longtime broadcaster David Feherty, who is in the booth beside fellow analyst Jerry Foltz and play-by-play announcer Arlo White.
There are also on-course and feature reporters Dom Boulet, Su-Ann Heng and Troy Mullins.
LIV’s full schedule for 2023 has yet to be announced, but the first event will be Feb. 24-26 at the Mayakoba Resort in Mexico.