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Saudi-backed golf league eyes $500M TV deal

Mar 18, 2022
Illustration of the earth as a golf ball, resting on a tee.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

LIV Golf Investments, the Saudi-backed golf startup aiming to challenge the PGA Tour, is seeking as much as $500 million in global media rights for its Super Golf League, Front Office Sports reports.

Why it matters: The appetite for sports rights, particularly among streaming services, has arguably never been greater. LIV Golf, which is led by one of the sport's most recognizable faces in Greg Norman, is trying to take advantage of that.

Details: The SGL's LIV Golf Invitational Series is set to start in June.

  • It will consist of eight tournaments offering $25 million purses at sites including New Jersey, Portland, Boston, Chicago, London, Bangkok, and Saudi Arabia.
  • LIV Golf Investments, largely backed by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, is pumping $400 million into the league.

Yes, but: The upstart league does not have any players yet.

  • Phil Mickelson landed in hot water when he admitted in an interview to overlooking Saudi Arabia's human rights violations and supported the new league as a way to "reshape" the PGA tour.
  • Mickelson lost some of his biggest sponsors after his comments and is now on a self-imposed hiatus from the sport.
  • Adam Scott, who won the 2013 Masters, is one of the few notable golfers to express interest in joining the league.

What's next: We'll see if any major PGA golfers take the plunge and join up with Norman. So far, Rory Mcllroy, Bryce DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson have publicly committed to the PGA.

  • Mcllroy in February said during a press conference the new league was "dead in the water."
  • The PGA Tour has told its golfers they would be barred from competing in PGA events if they were to take part in a rival league.
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