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Controversial LIV Golf Series Inks Rights Deals in U.S., Around the World

Matt Tamanini

The old saying goes that no press is bad press, and even though most of the coverage of upstart golf organization the LIV Golf Invitational Series has been centered on controversy, the league has ridden that controversy to a number of media rights deals just after the launch of its first event.

Despite negative news on multiple fronts, Front Office Sports is reporting that the new golf series has signed deals with multiple broadcasters to carry tour events around the world.

Sports streaming service DAZN has reportedly reached a deal for the series’ rights in the United States, Canada, Japan, Italy, Spain, and German-speaking countries, while DIRECTV will have rights in Latin America. Additionally, Sina Sports will broadcast the tour in China, and L’Equipe will air events in France.

Initially courting controversy because it is being financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund — which is managed by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (MBS), who has been accused of numerous human rights violations, including the torture and murder of Saudi-American journalist Jamal Khashoggi —
LIV Golf has also run afoul with the PGA Tour.

Former golf great Greg Norman serves as the CEO of LIV Golf and both The Shark and Phil Mickelson — who is playing in the inaugural London event — have been ostracized publicly for seeming to dismiss the concerns about atrocities reportedly committed by MBS.

The allure of the new tour’s incredibly lucrative purses has pulled some big names, including Mickelson, Duston Johnson, and Sergio Garcia, and in response, the PGA Tour has indefinitely suspended any golfer who plays an LIV event and is considering a lifetime ban.

Because of the deep ties that many traditional broadcast outlets in the U.S. have with the PGA Tour, a major media rights deal with ESPN, CBS, NBC, or any of their corporate siblings was always considered unlikely. And while Norman has previously served as an on-air commentator on Fox, that was reportedly quite the acrimonious relationship, making a deal with the company’s executives also unlikely.

So, LIV signing a U.S. rights deal with DAZN, seems like it might have been the best option if and until it can prove its worth to broadcasters.

Related: How to Watch LIV Golf Invitational Series Centurion Club Tournament Live for Free Without Cable

The league kicked off its first event at the Centurion Club in London on Thursday and reportedly offered the U.K. rights to both Sky Sports and BT Sports, but no deals have been finalized for the package. The first event runs through Saturday and is available via YouTube, Facebook, and LIV’s official website.

The first seven events of the series will feature a $25 million prize pool with $20 million distributed amongst the players and then the remaining $5 million being broken down amongst the week’s top three teams. The purse is larger than any tournament in PGA history and includes a minimum prize of $120,000 for any finisher and a $4 million bonus for the winner.

Additionally, LIV paid some golfers more than $100 million to join the league, essentially making them an offer that they couldn’t refuse.

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