‘Tainted’ LIV Golf will reportedly pay Fox to broadcast its events in the US

Controversial Golf tour LIV Golf is reportedly close to securing a rights deal in the US.

The Saudi-funded tournament has all but been shunned by the mainstream sportscasting world due to a combination of loyalty to the PGA Tour and repeated accusations of sportswashing. Last week it was reported that Apple and Amazon had turned down LIV Golf, with ESPN, CBS and NBC having also said no in the past. 

LIV Golf’s only rights deal to date has been with DAZN in the US and its other active markets including Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan and Canada. DAZN was offered the non-exclusive rights for free in an attempt to grow the organisation’s footprint

One party which has reportedly had its head turned after initially turning down the rights however is Fox. According to USA Today’s Golfweek, LIV Golf is close to a deal which would see the tournament buy airtime on Fox Sports 1. 

This deal would represent a dramatic departure from traditional sports rights agreements, which see broadcasters pay billions of dollars to carry live events. 

The report notes that while the deal is being finalised it is still being considered by the industry as a failure to attract serious commercial interest. Fox Sports is said to have only engaged in talks after Fox Corp executive chairman and CEO Lachlan Murdoch received a call from Jared Kushner, whose  private equity firm, Affinity Partners, secured US$2 billion in funding from LIV backer, the Saudi Public Investment Fund.

A source cited by the report said that executives at Fox wanted “nothing to do with this” and they were “forced to do it,” while another said that “any advertiser who touches this will get blasted.” That latter sports exec also referred to LIV as a “weak product” and a “tainted product on top of that.”

It remains unclear whether the deal would come into effect for the remaining events scheduled in 2022 or from the start of 2023.

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