LIV Golf president not ‘hung up’ on paying for television airtime
- LIV’s initial season is available on YouTube but it is not on TV despite being offered to broadcasters free of charge
- The tournament’s president Atul Khosla says he was not worried about a short-term TV deal, saying LIV’s wealthy backers were playing the long game
The disruptive new LIV Golf circuit could pay for television coverage temporarily as it tries to build a long-term presence, its president said, adding that the tour’s Saudi backers were looking a decade ahead or more.
LIV, whose luring of top players with record purses has enraged golf’s establishment, is currently on a “roadshow” of US and international broadcasters, president and chief operating officer Atul Khosla said at the Jeddah Invitational.
Responding to a report that LIV will buy airtime from US network Fox Sports, Khosla said LIV did not have “commercial terms figured out with any partner”.
“It could be that, it could be [revenue] share, it could be advertising dollars,” he said in an interview, when asked if LIV would buy airtime for a season before receiving any payment. “There’s so many different ways to build deals out … I personally don’t get too hung up on any of it at this point.”
Khosla referred to Major League Soccer, the NBA in China and Formula One in the US, which all started with small-scale TV deals before building up.
LIV’s initial season is available on YouTube but it is not on television despite being offered to broadcasters free of charge.
But Khosla said LIV’s backers, oil-wealthy Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, were playing the long game.
“I think we have an investor who has a long-term horizon. If the horizon was two years I would say OK, we have to have a very different deal structure,” he said.
“But if their horizon is 10-plus years, it’s a very different arrangement. You have to set it up now for five, seven years out.”
Khosla was speaking at the Jeddah Invitational, LIV’s first stop in Saudi Arabia and the last individual tournament of the season, which ends with a team event in Miami later this month.
Undeterred by the controversies, LIV is discussing a women’s version – with initial approaches to the LPGA and Ladies European Tour – and is strongly pushing its team structure.
Under that model, LIV golfers compete individually and as part of four-strong teams, which will ultimately be sold as franchises with the ability to trade players.
“We have commitments from players for multi, multi, multi years. We have a deep commitment from our primary investor, which has been fantastic,” Khosla said.
“(Golf) is an ageing product today, it has been for a long period of time. How can you make it younger? How can you make it faster? How can you make it hipper and cooler?” he added.
At LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah on Sunday Brooks Koepka beat Smash GC teammate Peter Uihlein with a birdie on the third playoff hole to capture his first LIV Golf individual title and his first worldwide win in 20 months.
Koepka birdied the par-5 18th in regulation for a 1-under 69, while Uihlein also made birdie on the final hole for a 70 to force a playoff. Joaquin Niemann (65) and Sergio Garcia (68) finished one shot behind.
Koepka won for the first time since early February 2021 at the Phoenix Open on the PGA Tour. He since has gone through various injuries and signed with LIV Golf in June.
Koepka won US$4 million, along with an additional US$750,000 for claiming the team competition. Uihlein is part of his team and earned US$2.125 million for being runner-up, US$750,000 for the team win and US$4 million for finishing third in the season points race.
“Honestly, to me the big thing today was getting the team win,” said Koepka, who shot a final-round 69 to finish regulation at 12 under with Uihlein. “I told my brother I’d buy him a Lambo if we won the team thing, so I’ve got to go by one.”