Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour announces first US TV partner

LIV Golf has announced its first U.S. television partner for its second season after being shunned by most U.S. networks due to the golf tour's ties to Saudi Arabia.

The CW Network announced Thursday it will air the golf tournament's 14 events in 2023 after the 2022 events were livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube.

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"We're very proud to note how consequential it is that a league that has only existed for one year has secured a full broadcast deal in its debut full league season. The CW and its majority owner, Nexstar Media Group, recognize the enormous interest in and potential of our league and with their support, more fans will experience the energy and innovative competition that LIV Golf is using to reinvigorate the sport," LIV Golf CEO and commissioner Greg Norman said in a statement.

The CW says coverage of the tournaments will air on the television network on Saturdays and Sundays, while Friday coverage of the tournament will be hosted on the CW app. The network also says its LIV Golf coverage will be the first time it exclusively airs a "mainstream" live sport.

Phil Mickelson
FILE - Phil Mickelson lines up a shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the Bedminster Invitational LIV Golf tournament in Bedminster, N.J., July 29, 2022. Players who defected from the PGA Tour to join Saudi-funded LIV Golf are still welcome at the Masters next year, even as Augusta National officials expressed disappointment Tuesday, Dec. 20, in the division it has caused in golf. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File) Seth Wenig/AP

"For The CW, our partnership with LIV Golf marks a significant milestone in our goal to re-engineer the network with quality, diversified programming for our viewers, advertisers, and CW affiliates. This also marks the first time in the CW's 17-year history that the network is the exclusive broadcast home for live mainstream sports." CW Network President Dennis Miller said.

The first event televised by the CW will be LIV's tournament at the El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, from Feb. 24-26.

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The LIV Golf tour had its first season in 2022 as an alternative to the PGA Tour. The upstart tour has been shunned by media outlets who cover PGA events, including NBC Sports and CBS Sports, and the PGA Tour has suspended players who participate in LIV Golf events. LIV Golf is funded by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

LIV Golf has received criticism for the potential links Saudi Arabia had to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, particularly from the families of the victims. The golf tour is seen widely as "sport-washing," or an effort to fix the country's public image through sporting events.

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