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Why LIV Golf TV deal with CW is ‘next step in making them legitimate’

Why LIV Golf TV deal with CW is ‘next step in making them legitimate’

LIV Golf’s recently announced television deal with the CW Network was not ideal, but was the next step in making them “legitimate,” according to an expert in sports management.

Lisa Neirotti, a professor of sports management at George Washington University, specializes in sports entrepreneurship and the importance of media rights for startup leagues. Neirotti acknowledges LIV’s partnership with CW – which is believed to be a revenue-sharing deal without a rights fee being paid – is not a “great deal,” but added oftentimes it’s necessary to give away a product to grow that product.

“We can criticize it all we want but they have been able to get themselves on a network,” said Neirotti, who has taught at George Washington for 32 years and studied LIV Golf closely the last year. “And that’s a first step for any growing sports property is to be able to get themselves on a network.

“Now it’s up to that property to bring the eyeballs to the network. The only way they are going to be able to do that is if they are able to really help promote it during different shows. So people who watch CW for news, people who watch CW for other shows, there needs to be promo spots saying tune in on Saturday at 1.”

The multiyear broadcast deal was announced Thursday. The CW Network, which has more than 200 affiliates nationwide, will air LIV’s 14 events in 2023, starting in February at Mayakoba in Mexico. The breakaway golf league headed by Greg Norman held eight events in its inaugural season of 2022. The only way to watch then was through YouTube and LIV’s own web site.

“It’s a way to test the market,” Neirotti said. “I know people say YouTube has many more viewers, or there’s a larger audience that used YouTube, but YouTube is not as popular right now for appointment TV.”

LIV is financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which invested an estimated $1.3 billion to launch the league. LIV distributed $255 million in prize money for eight events in 2022. That number will jump by about 63 percent in 2023 with purses totaling $405 million for 14 events.

One report late last summer said LIV was nearing a deal with FS1 in which LIV would purchase the time for its events and pay for production costs.

“It’s hard to get a media company to pay anything if a product hasn’t been proven,” Neirotti said. “They tried other sources and they didn’t get it. You got to start someplace.

“CW doesn’t have anything to lose…


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