Once reported to be at the center of a network bidding war, LIV Golf has announced that is now returning live events to YouTube, where the PGA Tour’s Saudi-backed rival began in 2022 before reaching a multi-year revenue-sharing deal with the CW Network back in January.
That CW deal remains in effect, according to Golf Monthly, but the tour will now also air tournaments on YouTube, beginning with this week’s DC event at Trump National Golf Club in Virginia.
Curiously, viewers in the US, Canada, Mexico and South Korea will need to pay $3 per day to see the tournament on YouTube, reportedly so that LIV Golf can protect existing broadcast and streaming deals.
Fans can also watch for free on the LIV Golf Plus app, but the various viewing arrangements are a far cry from the massive TV rights deal CEO Greg Norman envisioned only months earlier.
In September, Norman told ESPN that LIV Golf was receiving an ‘enormous’ amount of interest from networks.
Patrick Reed hits his tee shot on the ninth hole during the Pro-Am tournament in Washington
Despite its alliance with former President Donald Trump, LIV Golf has struggled to attract fans
Brooks Koepka of Smash GC is pictured as he arrives at the clubhouse in Virginia
‘We’re talking to four different networks — and live conversations where offers are being put on the table,’ he said. ‘Because [the networks] can see the value of our product, they can see what we’re delivering.’
However, CW’s ratings for LIV Golf events have been miserable, dropping 24 percent week-over-week until only 409,000 viewers watched a March tournament in Tucson, according to Golf.com.
Now, LIV Golf is no longer reporting viewer data after claiming that Nielsen’s audience measurements are inaccurate.
Despite LIV Golf’s struggles, the fledgling circuit remains a major topic on the PGA Tour, in part, because LIV Golf player Brooks Koepka recently won the PGA Championship.
But even with the presence of fan favorites like Koepka, Phil Mickelson, and Bryson DeChambeau, not to mention occasional appearances by former President Donald Trump, LIV Golf continues to struggle to attract fans.
For comparison, LIV Golf attracted 40,000 fans to an event in Tulsa as the PGA Tour hosted 150,000 at an event in Dallas, according to Pomp Investment’s Joe Pompliano.
LIV Golf CEO and Commissioner Greg Norman has struggled to gain a following in 2023
LIV Golf’s Chief Media Officer Will Staeger said the upstart tour can raise its profile by returning to YouTube.
‘Expanding the availability of LIV Golf’s live coverage on YouTube marks another milestone in the innovative ways in which we are making our groundbreaking competition available to viewers,’ Staeger said. ‘LIV Golf is a global league comprised of some of the game’s biggest stars, and this supports our goal of bringing the sport we love to more people in more places around the world.’
Golfweek Magazine reported last year that LIV came close to an agreement with Fox Sports about buying airtime, six years after the network parted ways with Norman, a former PGA star.
Despite the efforts of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner to broker a deal between both parties, no agreement could be made.
Western media outlets and golf commentators have repeatedly slammed the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour for its corruption and human rights abuses and for its efforts to improve its worldwide reputation image through sports.
Last year, in August, David Feherty admitted in an interview with the Toledo Blade, that the main reason behind his switch from NBC Sports to LIV was money, despite being an employee of the American TV network for seven years.
Trump takes pictures with his son Eric as they participate in the Pro-Am tournament
‘I hear, ”Well, it grows the game.” Bulls***,’ the 64-year-old Northern Irishman said. ‘They paid me a lot of money.’
The tour is also involved in a legal battle with the PGA Tour for interfering with its contracts with players. While the PGA is being accused of violating antitrust laws by banning LIV players from its tour, golf’s preeminent circuit countersued its Saudi-backed rivals, accusing the outfit of interfering with its deals.
Players who have defected to LIV Golf have been banned at PGA events, but they can still play at the majors, provided they meet qualifying criteria.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of the fund that finances LIV Golf, were also named in the lawsuit in October.