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New Golf League, LIV Golf, to Stream First Event Free on YouTube

Jeff Kotuby

Upstart golf league LIV Golf will stream its inaugural event live for free on YouTube in an attempt to reach younger viewers and get them interested in the league. The league’s first event is scheduled to take place at London’s Centurion Club from June 9-11.

The announcement was made during an introductory press conference that took place in London. LIV Golf representative Sean Bratches, formerly of F1, said the company’s goal is to lower the average player age in an attempt to keep the game around a bit longer.

“One is in our effort to lower the average age of the golf consumer from 65,” Bratches said. “Our objective is to target an average age of 40. From day one we are going to be distributing the content globally on YouTube and on LIVGolf.com. We are going to have similes in China, which geoblocks those two platforms. We’re talking to Snapchat, Facebook, Twitch, and a few other media partners, and at the same time we’re also engaged with the litany of broadcasters that are around the world.”

Bratches continues, saying that while LIV Golf wants to eventually get their hands on a traditional broadcasting deal, they’re focused on expanding the game to younger viewers through streaming services.

“Our objective is to open the aperture to new audiences while being respectful to the incumbents,” he said. “YouTube has 2.6 billion people that consume the product on a global basis, and over 120 million a month just in the United States. The changing behaviors of those viewers on these platforms are fascinating. In the world of connected televisions, with gaming consoles and other means to get content on the best available screen, and generally speaking the best available screen is the largest screen that you have, we feel very confident about that strategy in the short term.”

Even major sports leagues have seen the power of YouTube and other free video services as ways to grow their brand. Most notably, MLB is offering free games on YouTube throughout 2022. The NBA’s YouTube channel has also been a key part of the league’s digital strategy and it’s paid off with younger viewers. When asked about the channel, NBA’s associate vice president of digital strategy and analytics Kevin Esteves confirmed the league’s dedication to the platform — and how it’s paid off.

“These staggering numbers on YouTube are among the [metrics] we’re most proud of because, as I like to say from the data side, this single-year record viewership has been years in the making,” Esteves told the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. “The NBA has been on YouTube since 2005, and the optimizations that are required to kind of perfect your algorithmic traffic are so nuanced; it comes down to thumbnails and headlines and captions and the length of the video, and the pace of the video … So, seeing these numbers peak in 2021 is a testament to a lot of the optimizations that we’ve made over the course of several years.”

For the uninitiated, LIV Golf is a different brand of golf with a more team-based approach versus the traditional every-person-for-themselves style that we’re used to. LIV Golf will be populated by 12 teams of four, for a total of 48 golfers, who will compete in team-based tournaments that promise to be shorter and more fast-paced than their lengthier counterparts.

To do this, events will have “shotgun starts,” where each team starts play at the same time — but from a different starting hole. This can help events move on a bit quicker while allowing viewers to watch particularly tense moments play out simultaneously in real-time, rather than watching one golfer take aim at another’s score, the latter of which has been sitting in the clubhouse for two hours.

Despite plans to revolutionize the experience of watching golf, the league has come under fire as it is owned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The country’s history of civil-rights abuses has haunted the league since its announcement and CEO and golf legend Greg Norman has recently come under fire for dismissing those concerns out of hand.

These concerns — in part — have led PGA Tour and other international tours to block players from competing at the Centurion Club event, Norman seems assured that things will work out. At least you’ll be able to watch the events easily enough.

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