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Greg Norman Says LIV Golf Is Receiving 'Enormous' Interest in Media Rights Contract

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 16, 2022

Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

LIV Golf is only available to watch through YouTube streaming, but that could change as the organization negotiates television rights for future events.

"All I can tell you is that the interest coming across our plate right now is enormous," CEO Greg Norman told ESPN Chicago's Kap & J. Hood on Wednesday (h/t James Colgan of Golf.com). "We're talking to four different networks—and live conversations where offers are being put on the table."

According to Justin Byers of Front Office Sports, there could be as many as six bidders for LIV Golf with Fox considered the "leading contender." Other major networks like NBC, ESPN and CBS are unlikely to compete because of their relationships with the PGA Tour.

Any new television deal wouldn't begin until 2023, as LIV Golf’s chief media officer, Will Staeger, told Gerry Smith of Bloomberg on Thursday.

The Saudi Arabia-backed startup is in its first season, featuring an eight-event schedule. In 2023, the league will have 14 events.

LIV Golf has gained prominence with its ability to sign big names from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia and more. Last month, Cameron Smith, then the No. 2 player in the world rankings and the reigning Open Championship winner, was the latest prominent player to make the switch.

However, LIV has been roundly criticized as many see it as an avenue for Saudi Arabia to engage in sportswashing—using sports teams, leagues and events to distract from a nation's misdeeds and improve its reputation globally. The Saudi Public Investment Fund has also recently invested in hosting Formula 1 and WWE events and purchased the Premier League's Newcastle United in 2021. The current Saudi regime has been accused of numerous human rights violations, including the murder of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi, the jailing of dissidents, the bombing of Yemen and the oppression of women, girls and the LGBTQ+ community.

The league has offered large guaranteed contracts and prize pools to lure top players, as well as shorter schedules and three-round tournaments.

LIV Golf is behind the PGA Tour in viewership, though.

As John Ourand and Austin Karp of Sports Business Journal noted, the league's July tournament in New York averaged 74,000 viewers on its online stream during the final round Sunday. The PGA Tour's Rocket Mortgage Classic averaged 2.5 million viewers on the same day.

It will likely take a television deal for LIV Golf to take the next step as a serious organization.

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