LIV Golf, the upstart rival to the PGA Tour, just completed its third tournament with the winner Henrik Stenson pocketing a cool $4 million for the individual win and $375,000 as a member of the second pace team at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ. Currently the tournaments can only be seen live on YouTube, Facebook, and the LIV Golf website, but the tour is looking to ink broadcast and streaming deals, perhaps with Apple TV+ or Amazon Prime Video, two streamers that are particularly interested in carrying live sports.
LIV Golf’s first round at Trump National Golf Club had a little bit of everything. The former president waved to fans from the first tee and parachuters crashed into the course with the American Flag to the tune of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.”
Yet, none of it was seen through traditional broadcast methods.
“At the end of the day, we absolutely need a broadcast deal,” LIV Golf COO and President Atul Khosla said on Yahoo Finance Live.
LIV Golf is a new golf tour bankrolled by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, which has generated controversy due to the country’s history of human rights violations. It’s been able to attract big-name players in the game like Phil Mickelson with a reported $200 million [signing bonus] and Dustin Johnson at $125 million, which are reportedly more than double what they’ve earned in prize money over their entire careers.
The league has also pulled some broadcasting talent, namely David Feherty from NBC. Adding a broadcast partner could elevate the operation… A streaming partner means more potential on-air talent and consistent coverage. Sports media rights deals have reached well into the billions, with a growing number of tech companies entering the foray, including Apple and Amazon.
Phil Mickelson, the ring leader of the LIV movement, believes the new league’s unique play-style will be appealing to a streaming partner. LIV utilizes a “shotgun start” for its tournaments, which allows all 48 players to begin play at the same time. In traditional professional golf events, the tee times are scattered throughout the day so every player can start on Hole 1.
Shifting to a shotgun start takes what’s normally a 10-hour golf day and squeezes the action down to roughly four hours. Mickelson argued that condensation could help bring golf to a younger audience.
“When a streaming partner comes about, I think it’s going to revolutionize the way golf is viewed because you’ll have no commercials,” Mickelson said at the post-game presser. “You’ll have shot after shot after shot, and it will capture that younger generation’s attention span, and will open up a lot of opportunities to try and get the younger generation, which again we’ve tried to do for 30 years and it’s gone the other way.”
MacDailyNews Take: Sports business experts previously told Yahoo Finance that the backlash over the league’s Saudi funding would be fleeting. And big-name players keep joining: Bubba Watson, a two-time Masters champion, just announced that he was headed to LIV in 2023 during Friday’s opening round.
So, Apple (or Amazon) may see its way clear to inking a deal to stream LIV Golf events live without commercial interruption, as Apple already does with Major League Baseball’s Friday Night Baseball and will do with the upcoming 10-year exclusive deal to stream every single live Major League Soccer match beginning in 2023.
To start, LIV is probably very amenable to a sweetheart deal to land some real media presence which Apple could use to its advantage at the negotiating table.
Here’s LIV Golf’s Sunday final round via YouTube:
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