DORAL, Fla. — Two of the biggest challenges still facing LIV Golf are the lack of Official World Golf Ranking points at events, as well as the lack of a TV partner in the United States.
In a meeting with select members of the media at Trump National Doral – host of this week’s $50 million LIV Golf Team Championship – LIV’s chief operating officer Atul Khosla addressed both hurdles facing the upstart circuit led by Greg Norman and supported by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
LIV is looking at its TV broadcast in two separate bits: domestically in the U.S. and internationally.
“On the U.S. front, we are back and forth with a few different networks at this point in time,” said Khosla Saturday morning ahead of the afternoon’s semifinal matches. “Step one was to show them the product, which they want to clearly understand, show them the graphics and how it’d be very different.”
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Khosla said step two has been to clear the time on air. Over the last month, LIV has been in communication “with a variety of outlets” to talk about where events could land on the schedule, what golf courses may work, etc.
“We are now at that place where we’ve been able to clear time on a handful of networks that need set times to be cleared,” added Khosla. “So we’ve gone through that exercise now. Now we’re at the stage, ‘Okay, those are all things that could work, interest in both parties, let’s figure out what the commercial arrangements could look like.’”
Khosla is happy with where LIV currently stands in the process for securing U.S. rights for 2023, when the series transitions to the 14-event LIV Golf League, but also knows there’s plenty of work still to be done.
Last month, Golfweek reported LIV Golf was nearing a deal to purchase air time for its tournaments with Fox Sports 1. The yet-to-be-finalized deal would have LIV pay for not only the time slot, but also the production cost.
LIV called the report “incomplete and inaccurate” at the time, but when specifically asked if LIV would be open to paying for tournaments to be aired, Khosla didn’t reject the idea.
“Yeah, we’re going into it in the rights conversation that we think we are providing an incredible commercial product. We understand that these are not six month deals and one year deals. If a TV network is getting behind it, they’re gonna get behind it for multiple years, and that’s what we really want as well, to build a product on air and drive behavior,” said Khosla. “So we’ll work through what the final arrangements are.”
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Internationally, LIV currently has 20 international partners to broadcast events in 160 different countries and is in discussions for 2023, as well. LIV officials aren’t the only people involved in the process, either.
“We’re also really using the players for (broadcast discussions), they’ve been awesome,” explained Khosla. “So depending on the part of the world where the player is from, they’ve actually been on the calls with us with the TV networks, talking about the model and explaining why this would be amazing. Which has been actually fantastic to see and we’re grateful for their support.”
As for OWGR points, it was the same song at a different party. LIV formed a strategic alliance with the MENA Tour to try and force its way to receiving points, and like the many players who have spoken out on the subject – Patrick Reed, Graeme McDowell, and Bryson DeChambeau to name a few – Khosla was in tune.
“I think from our end, we believe we deserve the points. Clearly with our strategic alliance with the MENA Tour, we absolutely deserve those points,” he explained. “Can’t control who’s on the board and who’s conflicted, who votes on the board, I don’t know if there’s a mislead there, but that’s pretty clearly obvious at this point that there are divisions on the board that are conflicted in voting for us to get points.”
Khosla is, of course, referring to OWGR board members such as PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, USGA CEO Mike Whan, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers, PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh and Augusta National Golf Club executive director Will Jones.
It’s unclear whether either of LIV’s problems will be solved by February 2023 when the new league format is expected to start, but moves like paying for airtime and aligning with a developmental tour show the circuit will do whatever it takes to get what it wants.