LIV Golf is set to strike a deal with US cable television network Fox Sports 1 to buy airtime for its tournaments, Golfweek reported on Wednesday, citing multiple sources.
Since being officially announced in March, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund-funded upstart professional golf circuit has operated without a TV deal, instead broadcasting its events for free on YouTube and Facebook, despite an initial outlay of more than a year. billion dollars to poach some of the biggest names in the sport from the PGA Tour.
While the vast majority of major sports organizations sell their broadcast rights in bulk to media companies for hefty upfront fees, the reported deal will see LIV Golf pay for its own airtime in a bid to recoup costs by selling their own advertising. sponsorships.
If LIV Golf’s deal with Fox Sports 1 were to go through, it would also need to comply with US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements enacted in March that require broadcasters to disclose when foreign governments or their representatives rent time on their airwaves.
A representative for LIV Golf described Golfweek’s report as “incomplete and inaccurate” when contacted by the Guardian, but declined to comment on the potential implications of FCC regulations, which require disclosure at the time of a broadcast if a foreign government entity paid for a radio or television station. station, directly or indirectly, to ventilate the equipment.
“LIV Golf has exceeded expectations and remains ahead of schedule on many fronts, including broadcast rights,” the spokesperson said. “As we previously stated, LIV Golf is just beginning its process and is in active discussions with several companies about broadcasting the LIV Golf League. We caution that no one should jump to any conclusions about potential media rights as we are still in the midst of negotiations with multiple media outlets.
Critics have accused the Saudi government of using its announced $2 billion investment to clean up the kingdom’s dismal human rights record, alleged links to the 9/11 attacks, harsh crackdown on the rights of women and LGBTQ+ and the 2018 murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi since the breakaway. golf tour was announced six months ago.
LIV Golf will be responsible for producing its own shows in addition to selling its own ads, a “well-placed industry executive” told Golfweek.
The source also said LIV Golf had sought a partnership with a number of other potential broadcast partners, but was turned down by NBC, CBS, Disney, Apple and Amazon. Fox Sports, the executive said, only got involved at the request of Lachlan Murdoch, executive chairman and CEO of Fox Corp.
The executive took issue with the outlook put forward by LIV Golf general manager Greg Norman, who recently told ESPN he was speaking with four different networks about traditional broadcast rights deals.
The potential Fox Sports deal represents a reversal of the standard model and is rare in today’s sports television ecosystem, but is not entirely unprecedented. In 2015, influential boxing manager Al Haymon, backed by over $425 million in institutional capital, launched the Premier Boxing Champions series by paying $20 million to buy airtime for 20 shows on NBC and NBC Sports Network.
The PBC deal, however, included co-investment from the NBC family in the form of shared production costs, on-air talent, and promotional assets.