While there are lots of questions on the long-term future of LIV Golf following that series’ June announcement of a deal with the PGA Tour, the competition is still proceeding with its events as planned for now. And it may for some time, as there’s no definite timeline for the resolution of that LIV-PGA Tour merger (with even conflicting statements on whether it should be called a merger or not). So it’s notable that ahead of the next LIV event from London (which begins at 9 a.m. Eastern Friday), that series has struck a new non-exclusive TV partnership, especially for the Friday coverage that had previously only been viewable through The CW’s app. That deal is with ReachTV, which has more than 2,500 screens inside U.S. airports and more than 500,000 inside U.S. hotel rooms:
LIV Golf announces partnership with ReachTV, will air non-exclusively in U.S. airports https://t.co/6rPsRBSVVS
— Golfweek (@golfweek) July 6, 2023
Here are some quotes on that from a release:
“This partnership with ReachTV provides additional opportunities for fans on the move to follow LIV Golf’s supercharged action, including live coverage of Friday competition in bars and restaurants throughout North America,” LIV Golf Chief Media Officer Will Staeger said. “Our league is continually looking for innovative ways to connect the sport that we love with new audiences, and this partnership will give travelers more chances to catch many of golf’s biggest stars in action.”
…“Adding LIV Golf programming is another step forward for ReachTV as we work to create the streaming television network of the future,” ReachTV founder and CEO Lynnwood Bibbens said. “Our innovative business model creates more equitable partnerships for our partners and content creators, while serving our audience of travelers with the live sports and premium entertainment they crave.”
ReachTV has been making significant inroads in sports rights over the past few years. They signed a deal with the NFL for national broadcasts in September 2021, then extended that deal this February and expanded the amount of games covered by it. Last March, they announced a multi-year deal with IMG-owned Sport 24 (which focuses on in-flight and on-ship programming), which will let Reach show some live action from the NFL, NBA, NHL, Premier League, golf majors and tennis grand slams.
And Reach has built out quite a bit of sports content beyond live games, too. They struck a deal with PlayersTV in 2020, teamed up with SportScience creator John Brenkus’ Brinx.tv for three new shows this January, and have several series in the works with the National Basketball Players Association. It’s interesting to see them now expanding to LIV Golf, with this deal including both live action from Fridays (previously only available on that The CW app, and still available there after this deal) and previous tournament coverage at other times.
The linear ratings for LIV Golf have not been great, and neither have the preemptions. So this doesn’t feel like the largest deal from Reach’s side, especially relative to some of the other content they have. But it is a notable addition to their portfolio, and a reminder of the role they’re playing in the sports landscape. And in an era of monitored out-of-home viewing, even one where there are still counting controversies there, deals like this can be a nice addition for leagues and events.
And that’s maybe especially true for LIV Golf, which certainly has not had the best TV exposure or ratings to date. Of course, the series’ future is still highly uncertain, and the back-and-forths on its PGA Tour deal and players’ reactions are continuing. A ReachTV deal isn’t necessarily a game-changer for them, but it is a decent boost. We’ll see how it works out.