Amazon and Apple have both declined to pursue deals for the media rights to air the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tournament, leaving the controversial endeavor without an obvious media partner and few options on the table.
It has been similarly reported that major networks including ESPN, CBS, Fox and NBC have passed on potential deals with tournament executives.
The tournament, which has split the world of professional golf into two distinct camps, and those affiliated with it, have been accused of using the sport to paint over Saudi Arabia’s negative human-rights record, including the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Executives with LIV told the Wall Street Journal that this year the tournament wanted to make its events available to the public free of charge in order to prove the legitimacy of its product. Its first several events have been accessible free of charge on YouTube and LIV’s website.
But now the question is whether the tournament will be able to lock in a big name media rights partner ahead of its first full season in 2023.
Dustin Johnson during the LIV Gold Invitational at Chicago’s Rich Harvest Farms on September 15, 2022. Dustin, along with a handful of other former PGA-tour golfers, was suspended by the PGA for his decision to join the LIV circuit
Talor Gooch at the Chicago LIV Golf Invitational. The golf world is torn about the sudden establishment of LIV Golf, some claim it is an attempt to pump money into a popular sport in order to whitewash Saudi Arabia’s record of abysmal human rights abuses
Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been accused of attempting to corner the golf market in order to repair his reputation around western nations following the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, among other flagrant human rights abuses perpetrated by the kingdom
Apple and Amazon became the most recent media companies to pass on potential deals to acquire the rights to stream LIV Golf events. The tour is attempting to find a large scale media partner before its 2023 season
The tour, which is being funded by Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund, has managed to poach a large handful of the best golfers formerly on the PGA tour, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and Bryson DeChambeau – all of whom were suspended by PGA for their decision to play for the rival upstart.
In June, the PGA tour suspended all 17 players who participated in the tournament’s inaugural event.
At the time, tour commissioner Jay Monahan said, ‘We have followed the Tournament Regulations from start to finish in responding to those players who have decided to turn their backs on the PGA Tour by willfully violating a regulation.’
‘It’s troubling that the Tour, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play the game, is the entity blocking golfers from playing. This certainly is not the last word on this topic. The era of free agency is beginning as we are proud to have a full field of players joining us in London, and beyond,’ said LIV in response to the ban.
Patrick Reed, who was kicked off the PGA tour in June along with 16 other players who opted to join LIV, plays in Chicago
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman says the ‘notion’ that his tour is ‘trying to destroy’ the PGA is not true, rather it is the PGA tour that is ‘trying to destroy us.’ He says no one at PGA has ever agreed to sit down for a meeting with himself or any of his investors
LIV CEO Greg Norman recently told The Australian that ‘the PGA Tour is trying to destroy us, it’s as simple as that.’
‘This notion we’re trying to destroy tours is not true.’
Norman said that the already-established tournament has repeatedly refused to meet with LIV executives and have good faith business discussions.
‘The PGA Tour has not sat down and had a conversation with myself or any of my investors. We tried awfully hard, I know I did personally for the past year,’ he said.
One man who has decided the LIV tournament is altogether less controversial than the PGA believes, is former President Donald Trump.
In July, Trump agreed to allow his Bedminster, New Jersey Trump National Golf Club play host to the tournament. A Trump course in Miami is also scheduled to host the tournament’s last event of the season in October.
Trump chats to 2020 US Open winner DeChambeau on the driving range prior to a round at the LIV Golf tournament hosted by Trump International in Bedminster, New Jersey
Despite criticism from families impacted by 9/11 , the 45th president not only hosted, but participated in the LIV event at his New Jersey course in July