Will the pay-TV deal make Saudi-backed LIV Golf more accessible and palatable to fans?

Will the pay-TV deal make Saudi-backed LIV Golf more accessible and palatable to fans?

Most likely, the only people who think much of the LPGA having to pay for TV time are the hardcore LPGA supporters who want the TV networks to pay the LPGA for broadcast rights.

Most fans just turn on the TV and watch the women play, not thinking about the fact that they’re watching a buy-time event. It’s up to the LPGA to make money from the commercials they sell and the sponsors they find. That’s not true of all LPGA events and the number of time buys goes down a little each year, but that’s how the LPGA has been seen on television for years and years.

Which brings us to the story that the LIV tour, the Saudi-backed rival tour that is battling the PGA Tour, is apparently ready to strike a deal to buy time on Fox Sports 1 to show LIV events.

LIV has been without a television partner since its debut event in June, but that could be changing through a time buyout. Various reports, including Golfweek, say that LIV is close to reaching a deal with Fox Sports 1 to buy time to air its events. For its part, the LIV has said the reports are inaccurate, but it’s clear something is afoot that would put the professional golf circuit on television screens.

LIV has faced many questions as a new sports organization, from concerns about the Saudi regime to where the money comes from and how legitimate the limited-course, 54-hole, uncut format is compared to the PGA Tour or DP World. Tour. . But a big theme has been that LIV golf is not seen on television. Instead, it’s streamed through YouTube, and the overall numbers for that stream have been pretty low.

We live in a world of televised sports, almost to the point where a sport doesn’t exist if it’s not on television. One of LIV’s television problems is that the usual golf sources in this country, such as NBC, CBS, ESPN/ABC and the Golf Channel, have strong connections to the PGA Tour and affiliated organizations. So they weren’t going to make deals with LIV.

2022 LIV Golf Boston

2022 LIV Golf Boston

Dustin Johnson celebrates after putting to win the LIV Golf Invitational Boston 2022 after a playoff hole of the final round of the LIV Golf tournament at The International. (Photo: Richard Cashin/USA TODAY Sports)

Does Fox Sports want more golf?

Fox Sports had a 10-year contract with the United States Golf Association to broadcast USGA events, including the US Open and US Women’s Open. But Fox Sports walked away from that deal, meaning it has no golf coverage. That made LIV consider the logical choice. Still, it’s reasonable to wonder why, with LIV’s sponsors spending so much money on player contracts and event purses, the tour hasn’t previously found a way to get on television. There are plenty of TV options in this country, and many, if not most, would be interested in the money rather than any controversy LIV might bring.

Again, a time purchase is basically just that, an organization buying a block of time on a network, say two or three hours. The organization then has the right to fill that block of time – within reason of course – with its own schedule. The organization usually gets its money back by selling advertising during the period. A time purchase puts a golf event on the air, but it also causes some problems if the golf goes beyond the time purchased. This is why you often see LPGA events cut short when golf is still being played.

The networks pay the PGA Tour to broadcast their events so that golf can extend beyond the end of a time period. That TV money is also one of the reasons LPGA purses lag behind PGA Tour purses.

Being on TV won’t solve all the problems some people have with the LIV tour. Some fans will simply refuse to watch. But it will give fans who want to watch a chance to remember that Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson still play golf for money. Television will give LIV the look and feel of professional golf, while also giving fans a chance to see what LIV thinks is truly different on tour.

Questions and lawsuits will remain, but a switch to television will be important to LIV when it happens.

Larry Bohannan is the golf writer for The Desert Sun. He can be reached at larry.bohannan@desertsun.com or (760) 778-4633. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter at @larry_bohannan.


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Presidents Cup 2022

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The story originally appeared on GolfWeek

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