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Opinion | Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump are ready for Saudi cash

This guilt by association has turned LIV into a public relations disaster, with accusations that the tour is a Saudi attempt to “wash the sport” of its heinous human rights record with long, green drives and short, dramatic putts. LIV has proven to be such a bad idea that it has yet to win a major TV network deal. But that is likely about to change. According to golf weekthe tour appears to be close to a deal with Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Sports 1 cable channel, but the deal has a downside: Instead of Fox paying LIV to broadcast tournaments, which is the sports-entertainment norm, LIV will pay to Fox. (The last sports company that paid for the transmission of its events was the Alliance of American Footballand we know how that ended). Also, LIV will have to sell the ad slots, not Fox, and produce the shows.

What possessed the Saudis to start a tour and why are they paying to stream their product when the PGA Tour gets paid? $700 million a year of the stations for a similar show? And what about Murdoch? Why isn’t he worried about the pushback from 9/11 families who protested at a LIV tournament at Trump’s Bedminster field like “another atrocity“? And what is Trump’s deal in all of this? It’s all a matter of politics colliding with trade.

For the Saudis, crashing the achievements of professional golf two ends. The first, of course, is political. In the short term, they hope, LIV will help dilute the West’s image of an authoritarian country that assassinated dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. (The hit was reportedly commissioned by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto leader.) of Saudi Arabia. ) In the long term, LIV thinks, the billions it spends setting up its tour will replace the lucrative PGA as the face of the sport and eventually become a source of revenue. With almost unlimited funds at their disposal, the Saudis believe they cannot be ruled out.

But can the Saudis overcome the existing stigma so easily? Golf’s television audience is niche compared to other sports, with only the final round of the Masters placing in the top 50 Watched sporting events of 2021. Golf attracts broadcasters because its affluent audience responds to ads for luxury cars and other high-priced goods. But if protesters manage to link the LIV brand to the repressive regime — and there’s a good chance they will — luxury automakers may decide to curb their ads. TV sports are supposed to make people happy. A protest campaign that drenches LIV in blood red will extinguish that happiness and replace it with a frown.

What the Saudis failed to take into account when launching their own tour was the fact that television is the tail that wags the golf dog. The long-term contracts that the networks that currently broadcast golf (CBS, NBC, NBC’s Golf Channel, Disney’s ESPN and Warner Bros. Discovery) have essentially make them partners in the professional golf establishment. Without them, the PGA tour would fail. So while LIV Golf is an obvious attack on the PGA, it’s also an attack on the network’s control of the golf TV audience, so they’re not in it to help a new market entrant.

fox, what came out of golf coverage in 2020, it has no stake in the current golf TV business, so it was a perfect fit for LIV. For Murdoch, everything is transactional and he has no qualms about accepting Saudi money. At one point, a Saudi prince held a 6.6 percent share in their companies. But by streaming LIV Golf, Rupert is ready to make a killer deal. First, he will be guaranteed a profit, and second, by doing the Saudis a favor by taking their money, he will acquire a token that he can presumably cash in in the future. But what about bad publicity? At this point in his career, Murdoch’s reputation can’t fall much further, so if protesters picket Fox headquarters, he’s likely to pay as much attention to them as the Tucker Carlson protesters.

Trump’s involvement is similarly transactional. The PGA, which was to play its 2022 championship at Trump’s Bedminster Course, thrown off the event on your calendar days after the January 6 riots. Trump retaliated by imploring golfers to change from the PGA to LIV. Nobody knows why the Saudis would think that a partnership with Trump, who helped bring down the upstart USFL decades ago, would help their cause. Have you never heard of Trump University, Trump Water, Trump Mortgages, or any of their other failed businesses? That LIV has partnered with Trump is a measure of how desperate they are to crack the sport. Further evidence of his desperation can be found in the report of Sports business magazine that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who received $2 billion in funding for his private equity firm from the same Saudi fund in 2021, went to work last month trying to secure a TV deal with LIV.

Starting a new professional league is a tough business, even if you have a $600 billion sovereign wealth fund backing you up. With partners like Trump, advanced men like Kushner, and a network like Murdoch’s raising money to air it, does LIV stand a chance? Is there really a national audience for a golf infomercial selling to Saudi Arabia? And at what point will the Saudis get desperate enough to take the next step and pay viewers to watch?


LIV is not an acronym. It is “54” in roman numerals. It represents the number of holes your golfers play in a match (as opposed to 72 on the PGA). [email protected]. New email alert subscriptions are not being accepted at this time. Me Twitter the feed has a handicap of five. Me RSS Feed never saw a golf course he didn’t want to desecrate.


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