Here’s Where LIV Golf’s TV Future Stands After Apple And Amazon’s Reported Rejection


Amazon and Apple each swiftly turned away LIV Golf when the controversial PGA Tour competitor approached the companies about carrying its tournaments on their respective streaming services, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, a crucial blow as LIV seeks a big money broadcast deal to bolster its bottom line, though the Saudi-funded league continues to express optimism about negotiations.

Key Facts

LIV’s discussions with both Amazon and Apple never reached a serious stage, according to the Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter – even as the two companies make a desperate push into live sports.

The news comes a day after LIV CEO Greg Norman said there’s “enormous” interest in acquiring the tour’s media rights, saying the tour has received offers and is in active discussions with four networks.

However, LIV’s remaining suitors are slim with Amazon and Apple out of the fold: CBS, ESPN and NBC are all closely linked to the PGA Tour, leaving only Fox remaining among major American networks.

Considering Fox Sports opted out of its brief five-year stint airing the U.S. Open in 2020 and even fired Norman in 2016 after one season as a broadcaster at the network, Fox also seems like an unlikely match.

There are still several other more creative options LIV could pursue to extend its reach, including buying broadcast time on a network, which the New York Times reported it considered earlier this year or going directly to a regional stations, which LIV’s head of media Will Staeger told the Washington Post was on the table in July.

Crucial Quote

“The digital numbers that we’re seeing make us highly bullish on the ratings that we believe we will see on linear television when we find the appropriate partner,” Staeger told Forbes Thursday. Staeger declined to comment about the nature of LIV’s negotiations with specific partners.

Key Background

Apple and Amazon did not respond to Forbes’ request for comment. Barstool Sports’ Daniel Rapaport, formerly of Golf Digest, reported Tuesday that Apple declined to pursue LIV’s rights, with a source telling him the company felt LIV was “too toxic.” LIV, which is financed by the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, has been accused of being a public relations vehicle to “sports wash” the Saudi government’s history of human rights violations. The tour has lured away many of the top golfers away from the PGA Tour thanks to massive contracts. Though the Saudi funding may be limitless, the tour does have aspirations to turn a profit, and Atul Khosla, LIV’s president and chief operating officer, told Forbes the tour’s long-term business model will be based on “broadcast revenue followed by sponsorship revenue.” The commitment from top players and fan interest in LIV’s unique on-course format will likely land the tour a nine-figure annual rights deal.

Surprising Fact

Basketball Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen appeared at LIV’s pro-amateur event Thursday ahead of LIV’s tournament in Chicago and filmed promotional content for the tour, Staeger said. Pippen, who won six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls, follows in the footsteps Baseball Hall of Famer and Boston Red Sox great David Ortiz, who played a similar role at LIV’s tournament in Boston earlier this month.


Thursday’s contest between the Kansas Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers will be the first NFL game to air exclusively on Amazon Prime, kicking off Amazon’s 11-year, $13 billion deal with the league to stream 15 Thursday nights game per season. Apple is close behind Amazon in the live sports streaming business, signing deals worth about $3 billion to air MLB and MLS games.

Further Reading

Apple, Amazon Passed on LIV Golf Media Rights (Wall Street Journal)

Majors, Monopolies, Megabucks And Donald Trump: Inside The Business Of The New Saudi Golf League (Forbes)

LIV Golf’s future on U.S. TV is uncertain, but it certainly has one (Washington Post)