Report: TV partners have 1 big concern about LIV-PGA Tour deal
Several pro golfers said they were blindsided by Tuesday’s announcement that PGA Tour, LIV Golf and DP World Tour are forming a new business entity together, and the same was apparently true for the PGA Tour’s media partners.
Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports was told by a media executive that “no one had a f—ing clue” the PGA Tour and LIV Golf were working on a merger. The PGA Tour has media deals in place with CBS Sports, NBC Sports/Golf Channel, and ESPN. Multiple executives from those networks were left completely in the dark about the merger.
It is unclear what the vision is for the future now that the three major golf leagues have combined forces. For now, the PGA Tour and LIV are expected to remain separate brands. LIV Golf still has a contract in place with the CW, which said in a statement on Tuesday that they look forward to broadcasting seven more LIV events. McCarthy says there has been speculation that the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund could simply use their seemingly endless financial resources to buy their way out of the agreement with the CW.
According to McCarthy, the concern for the PGA Tour’s U.S. media partners is what comes next. Now that the PGA Tour, LIV and DP World Tour are operating as one for business purposes, they could seek to renegotiate with their TV partners. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about that directly by CNBC’s David Faber, and he gave a vague response.
“We’ve got great media partners. I know they will be excited about this announcement today. We’re going to create more value for them,” Monahan said.
NBC Sports/Golf Channel and CBS Sports signed contract extensions with the PGA Tour in 2020 that will pay $700 million per year for weekend coverage through 2030. ESPN pays the PGA Tour around $75 million per year. Those rights should now be more valuable. The question of how much more valuable may soon become a source of tension.