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LIV Golf Denies Report It Is Close to Buying TV Time After Failing to Secure Rights Deal

Stephen Silver

LIV Golf, the new upstart professional golf tour, has been highly controversial since its launch, both because of its habit of trying to sign golfers away from the established PGA Tour, and because it is funded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its Public Investment Fund.

In a year in which the cost of live sports rights have gone through the roof, LIV Golf has reportedly had trouble finding a TV or streaming partner in the U.S. The company streamed its first event in May on YouTube, and soon after, reached a deal with sports-focused streamer DAZN. Some events have also been streamed on Facebook and LIVGolf.com.

A report earlier this week stated that LIV Golf was in talks to pay FS1 to air events, rather than the other way around.

LIV Golf is now denying that report, calling it “incomplete and inaccurate.” According to The Associated Press, LIV Golf is maintaining its position that it remains in talks with potential partners to broadcast the tour’s future events.

“As we have stated previously, LIV Golf is just beginning its process and is in active discussions with several companies about broadcasting the LIV Golf League,” the statement by the golf league to the AP said. “We caution that no one should draw any conclusions about potential media rights given that we are still in the middle of negotiations with several outlets.”

Greg Norman, the golfer-turned-CEO and commissioner of LIV, said in an interview in early September that the company was in talks with “four different networks,” and that “offers are being put on the table.” Another report this month stated that streaming giants Apple TV+ and Prime Video had both “passed” on the chance to partner with LIV Golf, despite Apple and Amazon both bidding aggressively for sports rights over the last year.

The implication is that major media companies are reluctant to get into business with the Saudi regime, which U.S. intelligence services believe was responsible for the murder and dismemberment of Saudi-American journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. The PGA Tour has also frowned upon its broadcast partners working with LIV Golf. The PGA’s partners include ESPN, CBS, NBC, and the Golf Channel, as part of a multi-year deal worth a reported $7 billion.

Peacock is in business with WWE, carrying the former WWE Network on its service, while WWE has a business arrangement to host events every year in Saudi Arabia. But that doesn’t entail Peacock working with the Saudi regime directly.

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For all fights, they include every match from the entire undercard through the main event. DAZN is available for $9.99 a month, after a one-month free trial.

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