David Feherty, the golf analyst who moonlights as a comedian, told the crowd at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach that LIV Golf is close to securing a deal with a network known for teen dramas and superhero shows.
The CW Network, with 220 affiliates nationwide including WTVX 34 in West Palm Beach, is next in line as LIV attempts to secure a television contract. Feherty hinted on Thursday an announcement could be coming soon, possibly this week.
“Have you heard of CW?” he said after his show Thursday. He then added, “I might get fired for this, but … “
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LIV, the breakaway golf league funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and headed by Palm Beach Gardens’ Greg Norman, held eight events in 2022, its inaugural season. The only way to tune in was through LIVGolf.com and YouTube.
Feherty left NBC Sports and Golf Channel last summer to work as an analyst for LIV. When asked in August why he made the switch, Feherty told the Toledo Blade, “Money. I hear ‘Well, it’s to grow the game.’ Bull—- They paid me a lot of money.”
Feherty, though, wasn’t completely breaking the news when he spilled on CW. Sports Business Journal recently reported CW Network was the new frontrunner to land a deal with LIV.
Securing a television deal is paramount to LIV’s primary business model of team play. The series is being rebranded as the LIV Golf League this year and will increase to 14 tournaments. It will continue to play 54-hole, no-cut events with 12 four-man teams. It is looking to franchise as the primary source of income to help start offsetting the billions it cost Saudi’s PIF to get the league running.
But to maximize the value of each franchise, LIV must land that television deal and find league-wide sponsors. Partnering with CW would be the first step. Norman has said it won’t be until the end of this season at the earliest that the teams are sold.
Successful inaugural season
By all measures, LIV had a successful inaugural season. Norman was able to lure more prominent names than expected such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau. And the league got the attention of the PGA Tour, which reacted by pumping more money into its product.
LIV was polarizing and found its niche in the golf market.
But the news has come sparingly since the season ended in late October at Trump National Doral. At that time, rumors of more prominent defectors were circulating and former president Donald Trump promised big names would be leaving the PGA Tour for LIV.
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But no new players have joined since the 2022 season concluded and the roster remains a mystery. Many of the hottest names have personally dismissed the rumors. Patrick Cantlay said he has “no plans” to join LIV. Jason Day told The Palm Beach Post he is not leaving “as of now.” Xander Schauffele said, “I know where I’m playing next year, and probably if I had to guess, for years from now where I’ll be playing.” He meant the PGA Tour.
Cameron Young. Jon Rahman. Adam Scott. All remain on the PGA Tour. If there is any movement between now and the start of LIV’s season, it may be on the level of Tequesta’s Mito Pereira.
LIV desperately needs more star power. The number of high profile names that made the jump early was impressive, but those are not enough to compete with the star power on the PGA Tour.
Instead, the biggest news when it comes to transactions since the end of last season has been two significant departures from LIV. Matt Goodman, the director of franchises, left LIV this month and COO Atul Khosla stepped down in December. Both, according to Sports Business Journal, were “viewed as key figures as LIV looks to bolster its business model and begin tapping into traditional ways of generating revenue.”
Additionally, a full schedule was expected to be released in November, but just seven tournaments have been announced at venues in Mexico, Arizona, Australia, Singapore, Oklahoma, Spain, and West Virginia. The season starts Feb. 24-26 at Mayakoba in Mexico.
The rest of the schedule should be released soon. It is expected that some of the venues that held LIV events last season like Doral, Bedminster, Chicago, Boston and London will return. Trump said LIV would be holding a tournament at his property outside of Washington, DC
And no news has been bad news when it comes to Official World Golf Ranking points. The OWGR board of directors is slow-walking its time with LIV’s request for its golfers to receive points. Yet, in December they announced a Mexican developmental tour founded in 2017 would start receiving points this month following a 16-month application process. LIV applied for OWGR points last July.
Tom D’Angelo is the sports columnist for The Palm Beach Post. He can be reached at [email protected].