The CW is officially getting into the LIV Golf business.
The broadcast network, owned by Nexstar, has signed a multi-year deal with the startup golf association, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund.
Under the terms of the deal, The CW will broadcast 14 LIV Golf events in 2023, starting with a tournament to be held February 24-26 in Mexico. The tournaments will be broadcast live on The CW and will be streamed via the CW app on Saturdays and Sundays, while the Friday games will be streamed via the app.
The Hollywood Reporter previously reported that the two parties were “very close” to a deal.
Notably, LIV Golf will continue to produce its own event coverage for the 2023 tournament season (it produced the 2022 season, which it streamed on its YouTube channel). Arlo White returns as play-by-play host with David Feherty and Jerry Foltz as analysts.
Financial terms have not been disclosed, so it’s not clear if LIV will receive a rights fee like the PGA Tour does for its events or if it will make an alternative financial arrangement like revenue sharing.
Nexstar completed its acquisition of The CW last year (former owners Warner Bros. Discovery and Paramount still have minor stakes).
The local TV station owner is transforming the network from a home for scripted fare aimed at a younger audience to something he thinks will be a little broader. As THR‘s Lesley Goldberg previously reported that The CW is expecting just three original US-scripted series next season, including the recently revamped All American.
“For The CW, our partnership with LIV Golf marks an important milestone in our goal to redesign the network with high-quality, diversified programming for our viewers, advertisers and CW partners,” CW President Dennis Miller said in a statement. “This also marks the first time in The CW’s 17-year history that the network is the exclusive broadcast base for live mainstream sports.”
LIV, meanwhile, hopes that a real TV deal can dramatically increase its reach.
“This is a momentous day for LIV Golf as this partnership is about more than just media rights. The CW’s nationwide reach as America’s fifth broadcast network will ensure accessibility for our fans and maximum visibility for our athletes and partners,” said LIV CEO and Commissioner Greg Norman. “The CW recognizes the tremendous interest and potential of our league and with their support, more fans will experience the energy and innovative competition that LIV Golf is using to revitalize the sport.”
LIV has spent huge amounts of money luring PGA Tour top talent such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau to its own product, and has held events (including at Donald Trump’s golf course in New Jersey) featuring custom formats to try and appeal to a younger audience.
But the PGA has fought back, telling broadcast partners (including NBC, Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery) that any deal with LIV could affect future negotiations with the PGA. And the PGA’s biggest TV draw, Tiger Woods, has launched his own company, which will produce prime-time golf events for TV, open only to PGA golfers (and presumably their TV partners).