LIV Golf aiming to lure more players and sign broadcast deal for 2023 season

LIV Golf aiming to lure more players and sign broadcast deal for 2023 season

LIV Golf plans to have all players for their 2023 campaign signed up by the end of this year. Should this come to fruition, the breakaway tour’s second season would look considerably different to their first, when defections from the traditional ecosystem provided a constant storyline.

LIV will stage 14 events next year, with an increased emphasis on team competition. A schedule, including a stop at Valderrama, should be made public by the end of November. Speaking at Doral, where the 2022 season ends, LIV’s president, Atul Khosla, pointed towards a less volatile 2023.

“We are in the middle of the discussions,” he said of new signings. “We are going to get it done this year. We want the teams locked in by the new year. It will play itself out over the next couple of months.”

Speculation in Miami has linked Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Mito Pereira and Thomas Pieters with LIV. The loss of Cantlay and Schauffele would serve as a blow to the PGA Tour. Only a 72nd-hole disaster cost Pereira this year’s US PGA Championship. Pieters would ordinarily be in the mix for a place in Europe’s 2023 Ryder Cup team, a scenario that would be undermined by any switch to the Saudi Arabia-backed tour. LIV refuse to comment on individual discussions with players.

Integral to LIV’s development are broadcast deals. As it stands, and despite the appearance of umpteen major champions on their platform, LIV coverage is limited to its own website and YouTube channel.

“On the US front, we are back and forth with a few different networks,” said Khosla. “Step one was to show them the product, which they clearly understand. We had to show them the graphics and how it would be very different. Step two was to clear the time.

“We are now at the point where outlets have said time could be cleared. There are only so many times a year you can do that on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We are figuring out what the commercial arrangements could look like.

“I feel good about where we are but we have work to do over the next couple of months. We think we are providing an incredible commercial product. These are not six-month or one-year deals, if a TV network is getting behind this it’s for multiple years. We have got to start commercialising the product. We have got to get on TV, we have to get corporate partners. These are milestones that we need to hit.”

Khosla would not rule out paying a broadcaster to show LIV events, with speculation about an arrangement with Fox Sports.

Next year will bring the introduction of a team league within LIV, running alongside the individual concept. If organisers have their way Fireballs, Majesticks, Punch and Cleeks will develop into household names. LIV believe the franchise model of team sport – particularly in the US – can be replicated. But is this a valid aspiration in what is typically an individual game?

“About 45% of the people showing up here are under the age of 45,” said Khosla. “That’s about 20 years younger than your average golfer. Our belief is that people understand team sports. They play team sports. They can relate to be associated with a team, while having a favourite player as well. We feel that trend can continue in golf.”

Khosla’s tone is generally non-confrontational. This is in stark contrast to the routine rhetoric of Greg Norman, LIV’s commissioner. Khosla said there is nothing to read into Norman’s public silence during this marquee week in LIV’s year but it has been notable. A key fascination for 2023 surrounds how and whether Norman’s position will evolve now that disruption has been caused.

In the case of the official world rankings, there is ongoing frustration within LIV. Khosla and his colleagues feel LIV events should be deemed worthy of OWGR status that has not yet been granted.

“We believe we deserve the points,” Khosla said. “Clearly, including with our alliance with the Mena Tour, we absolutely deserve the points. We can’t control who is on the board and who is conflicted there. It is obvious at this point there are individuals on the board who are conflicted.”

This was a clear dig at Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour’s commissioner, and the European Tour group’s chief executive, Keith Pelley.

There will be no outbreak of peace between the warring golfing factions for the foreseeable future.

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