LIV Golf ‘close to finally closing TV deal with CW Network’

LIV Golf ‘close to finally closing TV deal with CW Network’

LIV Golf will reportedly announce a partnership with CW Network – America’s fifth-biggest commercial television network – to broadcast its 14 league events this year after failed attempts to land deals with Fox Sports, ESPN, NBC, CBS, ESPN, Apple and Co .complete Amazon.

The CW Network, known for its syndicated programming, does not have a long history of broadcasting any sports competition other than WWE SmackDown between 2006 and 2008 following the merger of UPN and WB.

The over-the-air cable network’s agreement with LIV would represent a major coup for the Saudi Arabian-backed golf tour, led by CEO and Australian golfing legend Greg Norman, as it would be broadcast in over 220 local markets across the US

LIV Golf is on the verge of an agreement to broadcast its 14 live events across the US with CW Network

Greg Norman, CEO of LIV, has been trying to strike a deal with a US broadcaster since 2021

Greg Norman, CEO of LIV, has been trying to strike a deal with a US broadcaster since 2021

The CW Network has not historically shown live sporting events other than WWE Smackdown

The CW Network has not historically shown live sporting events other than WWE Smackdown

Ex-PGA and European Tour golfer David Feherty, who left NBC Sports to join the LIV Golf broadcast team in July, dropped a hint at a comedy show in West Palm Beach, Fla. last week that a deal was concluded with CW Network .

“Have you heard of the CW? he said, according to The Palm Beach Post. “I could get fired for this, but…”

Neither LIV Golf nor CW Network have confirmed the deal.

An unnamed source told Sports Illustrated that the nature of a deal would involve a revenue split between LIV and CW Network without paying an initial rights fee – the opposite of Fox Sports’ stance on the agreement, which will broadcast the tour’s events on FS1 and FS2 to show channels.

Ex-PGA Tour golfer David Feherty hinted at a deal between the two parties in Florida last week

Ex-PGA Tour golfer David Feherty hinted at a deal between the two parties in Florida last week

LIV Golf hosted an invitational tournament last year at Donald Trump's golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey

LIV Golf hosted an invitational tournament last year at Donald Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey

LIV Golf, which has streamed its live events for free on its official website, Facebook and YouTube, has struggled for viewership since its inception in 2021.

The renamed tour is scheduled to begin on February 24 at El Camaleon Mayakoba Golf Course in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, although no announcement was made about the 48 participants. The full calendar of 14 events is also yet to be made official. Last year, the tour hosted a tournament at ex-US President Donald Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Earlier this month, multiple reports suggested LIV was close to offering UK broadcasters free live TV rights, while senior executives, including Norman, were desperate to find a traditional broadcast partner.

Sportsmail learned a new round of talks involving Sky Sports, BT Sport and DAZN failed to reach an agreement over the winter holidays, not long after LIV failed to persuade major US broadcasters to sponsor the second season of the Saudi Arabia-funded rebel tour take .

DAZN only showed the events of the tour outside of the major markets, including Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan.

Loyalty is the main reason behind the refusal of the world’s most-watched channels to participate in the PIF-backed tour, given their close ties to LIV’s nemesis, the PGA Tour.

Golfweek Magazine reported last year that LIV had reached an agreement with American broadcaster Fox Sports to buy airtime, six years after the broadcaster parted ways with Greg Norman.

Despite Jared Kushner’s efforts to negotiate a deal between the two parties, no agreement was reached by the end of 2022.

Jared Kushner tried to broker a deal for LIV with some of America's biggest sports networks

Jared Kushner tried to broker a deal for LIV with some of America’s biggest sports networks

Western media and golf commentators have repeatedly criticized the Saudi Arabian-backed LIV Golf Tour for its corruption and human rights abuses and for its efforts to improve its global standing through sport.

Last year in August, Feherty admitted in an interview with Toledo Blade that the main reason for his move from NBC Sports to LIV was money, despite being an employee of the American television network for seven years.

“I hear, ‘Well, it makes the game bigger.’ Bulls***,” said the 64-year-old Northern Irishman. “You paid me a lot of money.”

He also hinted at a new challenge after covering “all the majors” as well as the Winter and Summer Olympics.

“It was an opportunity to become a senior analyst. And being me more than anything,” he added. ‘Be myself. You might have that nervousness, but to push the irreverent boundaries a little. The shackles are off. Towards the end I felt a bit cramped [at NBC] and at the end of my CBS tenure too. I loved everything and was incredibly lucky.’

LIV Golf convinced other big names to join its roster including current pros Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka.

The Tour is also embroiled in a legal battle with the PGA Tour for interfering with their contracts with their players.

The Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of the fund that finances LIV Golf, were named in the lawsuit in October.