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After a rocky rollout, the LIV Golf tour is closing in on its first U.S. national TV deal.
A source familiar with the talks tells The Hollywood Reporter that the Saudi Arabia-backed golf tour is “very close” to a TV deal with The CW, the broadcast network now owned by local TV giant Nexstar. Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount also have small stakes in the network.
Specific details of the deal are not yet known (after initially asking for rights fees like other leagues and tours such as the PGA, NBA and NFL receive, LIV is said to have been open to more of a revenue-sharing model), but would nonetheless mark a significant move for the tour, which has waged a bitter public battle with the PGA over the last year or so.
The CW had not returned a request for comment as of writing.
LIV has spent enormous sums to lure top PGA Tour talent like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau to its own product, and has held events (including at Donald Trump’s course in New Jersey) with tweaked formats to try and appeal to a younger demographic.
But the PGA has fought back, telling broadcast partners (which include NBC, Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery) that any deal with LIV could impact future negotiations with the PGA. And the PGA’s biggest TV draw, Tiger Woods, has launched his own company, which will produce primetime golf events for TV, open only to PGA golfers (and presumably their TV partners).
Sports Business Journal first reported that The CW might make a logical TV home for LIV last year. David Feherty, a golf analyst who has worked on LIV Golf’s YouTube broadcasts, had previously hinted that a deal with The CW could be in the works.
For The CW, LIV offers a taste of live sports, a genre that the network had been lacking. As THR‘s Lesley Goldberg previously reported, The CW only expects to have three U.S. scripted original series next season, including the recently renewed All American.
But it will be a controversial entry into the space for the network, given the league’s bare-knuckled brawl with the PGA, and its backers at the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
Still, for Nexstar, LIV Golf would be one of the first major programming moves since acquiring the network and could provide a window into the company’s plans, suggesting a more open appeal to older male audiences, and another shift away from its past as a major home for scripted fare.
Lesley Goldberg contributed reporting.
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