Sports

LIV Golf ‘will buy airtime on Fox Sports after networks balked at Saudi-backed tour’s first TV deal’

Instead of selling its media rights, the junior LIV Golf Tour will instead buy air time on Fox Sports 1 to broadcast its competitions.

Multiple sources have told Golfweek that the Saudi-backed golf chain is about to pay the Rupert Murdoch-owned sports network for airtime after NBC, CBS, ESPN, Apple and Amazon refused to buy the first media contract for LIV Golf. One source added that Fox Sports only participated at the request of Lachlan Murdoch, Robert’s son and Fox Corp’s CEO.

“There were people at Fox who didn’t want anything to do with this,” the source told Golfweek. “They were forced to do it.”

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Team captain Cameron Smith of Punch GC poses with Greg Norman, CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf, after winning the singles title during day three of the LIV Golf Invitational – Chicago at Rich Harvest Farms on Sept.

Team captain Phil Mickelson of Hy Flyers GC puts on the 18th green during day two of the LIV Golf Invitational - Chicago at Rich Harvest Farms on Sept. 17, 2022 in Sugar Grove, Illinois.  LIV Golf events were free to the public as the tour hopes to build a following

Team captain Phil Mickelson of Hy Flyers GC puts on the 18th green during day two of the LIV Golf Invitational – Chicago at Rich Harvest Farms on Sept. 17, 2022 in Sugar Grove, Illinois. LIV Golf events were free to the public as the tour hopes to build a following

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This latest development comes after Greg Norman, legendary PGA player-turned-CEO of LIV Golf, gave a very different picture of the negotiations to ESPN.

“We’re talking to four different networks, and we’re having face-to-face conversations where offers are put on the table,” he told ESPN two weeks ago. “They can see what we offer.”

LIV Golf has been at the center of controversy in the golf world, not only because it was paying PGA players to defect, but also because the new round is being funded by the controversial Saudi regime’s Public Investment Fund.

This is the same fund that gave $2 billion to the private equity firm owned by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, in 2021. Since then, Kushner has tried to broker a media rights deal on behalf of LIV Golf, but it never happened. End anything, according to an August article by Sports Business Journal.

“One phone call,” a source familiar with the call told SBJ. ‘Totally informal. He took very little time to make an introduction.

A spokesperson for Kushner told DailyMail.com that he would verify this report with his client before commenting.

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LIV Golf is also associated with Trump through its courses. He has already hosted one event on tour at his club in New Jersey and will host the season finale on his track in Miami next month.

Former US President Donald J. Trump (L), Saudi businessman Yasser bin Othman Al-Rumayyan (C) and Jared Kushner (R) watch the first round of the LIV Golf Bedminster Invitational, part of the new LIV Golf Invitational Series, at the Trump National Club Golf in Bedminster, New Jersey

Former US President Donald J. Trump (L), Saudi businessman Yasser bin Othman Al-Rumayyan (C) and Jared Kushner (R) watch the first round of the LIV Golf Bedminster Invitational, part of the new LIV Golf Invitational Series, at the Trump National Club Golf in Bedminster, New Jersey

LIV Golf has been at the center of controversy in the golf world, not only because it was paying PGA players to defect, but also because the new round is being funded by the controversial Saudi regime's Public Investment Fund.  This is the same fund that gave $2 billion to the private equity firm owned by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law, in 2021. Since then, Kushner has tried to broker a media rights deal on behalf of LIV Golf, but it never happened.  End anything, according to an August article by Sports Business Journal

LIV Golf has been at the center of controversy in the golf world, not only because it was paying PGA players to defect, but also because the new round is being funded by the controversial Saudi regime’s Public Investment Fund. This is the same fund that gave $2 billion to the private equity firm owned by Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, in 2021. Since then, Kushner has tried to broker a media rights deal on behalf of LIV Golf, but it never happened. End anything, according to an August article by Sports Business Journal

The first season of LIV Golf was played without a media contract. Instead, LIV displays its team-based courses on its website and on YouTube. Circle executives previously told the Wall Street Journal that the events were free to the public until the tour established its legitimacy with fans and networks alike.

That plan didn’t come to fruition as all US networks and streaming services pulled back on LIV Golf, not just according to Golfweek and Journal.

Buying airtime is unheard of in sports.

Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), a televised boxing series, helped gain a following by buying air time from several networks, including Fox, NBC, and CBS.

Joe Buck, Brad Faxon and Greg Norman, Fox Sports Analysts, are seen training before the start of the 115th US Open in Chambers Bay on June 17, 2015 in University Place, Washington.  Norman was later fired by Fox Sports

Joe Buck, Brad Faxon and Greg Norman, Fox Sports Analysts, are seen training before the start of the 115th US Open in Chambers Bay on June 17, 2015 in University Place, Washington. Norman was later fired by Fox Sports

Fox Sports, on the other hand, appears to be a natural fit for LIV Golf, considering Norman’s reported relationship with fellow Australian Rupert Murdoch, who owns the network. Front Office Sports reports that Murdoch has a relationship with LIV consultant David Hale, another prominent Australian sports television producer.

In fact, the three teamed up on the failed World Golf Tour in the mid-1990s – a circuit that bears striking similarities to PGA’s current competitor, LIV Golf.

Conversely, Norman had a bad breakup with Fox Sports in 2015, when he felt blamed for his disappointing coverage of the US Open that year.

He told FOS in 2021 of his shooting on the network: “I felt like I was rolling under a bus.

The PGA Tour’s bitter rivalry with LIV was golf’s biggest since the start of the junior round funded by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, which also owns English club Newcastle United. Saudi Arabia has committed at least $2.4 billion to LIV Golf, according to reports.

Controversy immediately erupted when the PGA Tour turned away defectors, such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Australian singer Cameron Smith, all of whom were criticized for taking millions from a country that has been widely criticized for human rights abuses.

Litigation is ongoing involving both the PGA and European Tours over the removal of LIV golfers from those established circuits. On Tuesday, Mickelson and Ian Poulter were among four LIV players who filed a request to have their names removed from the lawsuit, which is still being pursued by LIV Golf and three others: Bryson DeChambeau, Peter Uihlein and Matt Jones.

Signs are placed at the LIV Golf Championships on Thursday, September 15, in Sugar Grove, Illinois

Signs are placed at the LIV Golf Championships on Thursday, September 15, in Sugar Grove, Illinois

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