As of midday, there were far more questions than answers about the media implications of the shocking merger—especially on the subject of whether golf’s new super-entity will seek to renegotiate the PGA Tour’s long-term media rights deals. But here’s what Front Office Sports was hearing from multiple media executives Tuesday:
**The early take is that PGA Tour’s current media rights deals with NBC Sports/Golf Channel, CBS and ESPN won’t be impacted. For now, the PGA Tour and LIV will remain separate brands. In 2020, NBC/Golf Channel and CBS agreed to pay a combined $700 million per year to continue weekend tournament coverage through 2030. ESPN separately agreed to pay about $75 million annually for a digital rights package. ESPN also has deals with The Masters and PGA Championship.
**If anything, CBS, NBC, Golf Channel, and ESPN’s rights should be even more valuable since they will eventually be able to again cover former PGA Tour superstars like Phil Mickelson, PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, who defected to LIV.
**But will a combined PGA Tour/LIV Golf behemoth seek to negotiate the PGA Tour’s U.S. media rights deals once the dust settles? That’s the concern for TV partners. CNBC’s David Faber asked PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan the question directly Tuesday—and he danced around without giving a clear answer. “We’ve got great media partners. I know they will be excited about this announcement today. We’re going to create more value for them,” Monahan said.
**Another big question centers around LIV’s new multi-year TV/streaming deal with The CW Network. In a statement, The CW said there would be no changes to its LIV schedule this year. “We look forward to broadcasting seven more exciting tournaments this year featuring the world’s best golfers,” said the network. But another source said the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund could simply use its petro-dollars to buy out CW—and move LIV events to networks with more established golf audiences.
“It appears this deal was made at the top level. All the details will come in behind it,” said another source.
—Michael McCarthy is a reporter for Front Office Sports