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LIV Golf reaches broadcast rights deal with CW Network

Signage on a golf ball at the LIV golf tournament on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois.

Brian Cassella | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

LIV Golf reached a multi-year deal to make CW Network the exclusive US broadcast partner of the Saudi-funded professional golf tour that launched last year with dozens of golfers, including Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson.

The CW will air the 14 global events of the 2023 LIV Golf League season, starting with a Mexico tournament from Feb. 24 to Feb. 26.

Saturday and Sunday tournaments will air live on the CW and the CW App, and Friday LIV events will be available on the CW app, the network said in a press release.

Nexstar Media Group owns 75% of the CW, which is known for airing shows primarily attracting younger audiences, and did not disclose the financial terms of the agreement.

CW Network President Dennis Miller in a press release said the partnership “marks a significant milestone in our goal to re-engineer the network.” He added that this was the first time in the company’s history that it was the exclusive broadcast home for live mainstream sports.

The Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, which is controlled by the Saudi crown prince, has committed at least $2 billion to the golf circuit and also backs LIV’s major tournament sponsor, real-estate developer ROSHN.

Until now, LIV has yet to air its matches on a major US network after Apple spirit Amazon passed on coverage deals. LIV events have been free for viewers online, including Alphabet‘s YouTube.

“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,” said LIV Golf Chief Executive and Commissioner Greg Norman in a press release.

The league has struggled to pull in sponsors for its tournaments and critics have accused the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund of “sportswashing” to improve Saudi Arabia’s image. LIV’s major tournament sponsor, real-estate developer ROSHN, is also backed by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund.

As its name suggests, LIV Golf tournaments feature 54 holes instead of the more common 72. There are also 12 teams, caps of 48 players and shotgun starts.

In October, the PGA Tour filed a lawsuit against LIV’s Saudi backers in an attempt to force evidence discovery, a continuation of antitrust claims between the rivals.

LIV sued the PGA Tour a month prior alleging anti-competitive practices and monopolistic behavior. In response, the tour countersued LIV Golf of interfering with its deals. Tiger Woods reportedly rejected an $800 million offer to join the league.

The PGA Tour previously suspended 17 players for playing in the inaugural LIV Golf tournament in June, which LIV called an “effort to stifle competition.” LIV CEO Norman visited Capitol Hill in September to meet with members of Congress.

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