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The debut of live sports on The CW didn’t make much of a dent with viewers.
The network’s inaugural broadcasts of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf league drew an average of 288,500 viewers and a 0.18 household rating on Saturday and Sunday. By comparison, the weekend’s PGA Tour event averaged just under 2 million viewers — about seven times as many — over the same two days on NBC. The two LIV rounds on The CW also came in behind four PGA Tour telecasts on the Golf Channel.
Despite the small numbers, however, the CEO of The CW’s parent company said on an earnings call Tuesday that he was pleased with LIV’s debut on the network.
“Those numbers exceeded our expectations and, and most importantly, the affiliates, as well as our own stations, were thrilled,” Nexstar CEO Perry Sook said on the call. He said 1.4 million people watched at least a few minutes of the LIV event across the broadcast network and CW app from Friday to Sunday. “I know that our affiliates and CW affiliates in the top 10 markets generated about three times the amount of money that the network generated for this first outing, and so it’s selling very well, and you know, and I think will continue to grow as we get more into the season and more involved.”
LIV Golf, financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, is marketing itself as an alternative to the PGA Tour and paid huge upfront sums to lure away big names including Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau to compete for the upstart league. LIV’s events in its first year, 2022, were shown on the league’s YouTube channel; The CW deal is the first broadcast agreement for the league.
The PGA’s Honda Classic, meanwhile, was about even with last year’s tournament, slipping by about 5 percent from the 2.09 million for the Saturday and Sunday telecasts on NBC in 2022.
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