The list of streaming companies that will air the new LIV Golf series has grown this week.
Amazon and Apple – two of the biggest and newest players in the sports streaming market – have both refused to offer LIV on their platforms, according to The Wall Street Journal. Other companies like ESPN, CBS, NBC and Fox have also previously refused to broadcast the Saudi-backed league, according to the Journal.
It was no surprise that other major networks were carrying LIV — CBS, NBC and ESPN have already struck deals with LIV’s biggest rival, the PGA Tour. But Amazon and Apple have decided not to participate in the upstart Golf Series Matters due to the two companies’ recent foray into live sporting events. Amazon is about to unveil its new “Thursday night football show this week after paying the neighborhood of 100 billion dollars for the NFL game list. Apple, meanwhile, signed a 10-year, $2.5 billion deal to stream Major League Soccer games on Apple TV+ and also airs one “Friday Night Baseball” game per week.
Currently, LIV streams live on Facebook and YouTube and has a global broadcast deal with sports streaming service DAZN. LIV also has agreements with international networks like ServusTV in Germany and Austria and Eleven Sports in Italy.
However, LIV’s reps didn’t seem too concerned about the recent news. CEO Greg Norman told ESPN 1000 Chicago Wednesday that LIV speaks with “four different networks” and that interest in the company “is huge.” An executive also told the Journal that LIV was still negotiating its media rights early and expected to complete a deal by the start of the league’s first full season in 2023.
“We are optimistic about our prospects given our field of players and the quality of our product,” said Will Staeger, chief media officer of LIV Golf, according to the Journal.
LIV recently drawn the winner of the Open Championship 2022 Cameron Smith will join the league which already boasts star golfers like Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson.
Despite the talented workforce, the controversy still revolves around LIV because the series is funded by the Saudi government, which has been accused of countless human rights abuses. Many have claimed the league only exists to fix the world’s view of the Middle Eastern kingdom – also known as ‘sportswashing’ – and even Mickelson described the Saudis as ‘scary’ business partners.
“We know they killed [Washington Post journalist Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible human rights record,” Mickelson said. said in February. “They execute people there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it [joining LIV]? Because it’s a unique opportunity to shape how the PGA Tour works. And Saudi money finally gave us that leverage.
months later, Norman brushed off the allegations against the Saudis and said “we all made mistakes”.
The existence of LIV too fractured the sport of golf after the PGA banned the players from the tour if they defected. There are still questions about whether or not LIV golfers will be allowed to play major tournaments like the Masters next year as well.
For now, all US fans of the league can only watch online on Facebook, YouTube or DAZN.