LIV Golf is nearing a deal to purchase air time for its tournaments on U.S. cable television, multiple people with knowledge of the situation have told Golfweek. The potential agreement — which is still being finalized — is with Fox Sports 1.
While media companies typically pay sports leagues a substantial rights fee to air their products, the deal would not see LIV receive payment, said a person familiar with the discussions. Instead, LIV — which is controversially financed by the Saudi Arabian regime’s Public Investment Fund — would buy time on the cable channel to air its events, a move that will be widely interpreted as a failure to attract serious commercial interest in what it is offering.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Two weeks ago, LIV CEO Greg Norman said he was fielding intense interest from media companies eager to broadcast LIV tournaments.
“We’re talking to four different networks, and live conversations where offers are being put on the table,” he told ESPN. “They can see what we’re delivering.”
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A well-placed industry executive says LIV struck out with approaches to multiple broadcasters, including NBC, CBS, Disney, Apple and Amazon, and that Fox Sports got involved only at the behest of Lachlan Murdoch, the executive chairman and CEO of Fox Corp.
Last month, Sports Business Journal reported that Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of former President Donald Trump, had been calling broadcasters trying to generate interest in an LIV television package. In 2021, Kushner’s private equity firm, Affinity Partners, secured $2 billion in funding from the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
LIV has been widely criticized as a sportswashing effort by the Saudi regime. Saudi Arabia has been accused of wide-ranging human rights abuses, including politically motivated killings, torture, forced disappearances and inhumane treatment of prisoners. And members of the royal family and Saudi government were accused of involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist.
A LIV tournament staged this summer at Trump Bedminster in New Jersey drew protests from the families of 9/11 victims, who point to Saudi involvement in the terrorist attacks.
LIV has three remaining events scheduled in 2022. All will be played next month, in Bangkok, Thailand; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; and at Trump Doral in Miami.