What Is LIV Golf? It Depends Who You Ask.


LIV (rhymes with give) Golf chose Roman numerals for its name. If it’s been a while since you studied those in school, LIV translates to 54, which is the number of holes each player will complete in each event’s three-round format, which is one fewer round than a typical PGA Tour workweek, but for a lot more money.

(Before you ask: The most recent N.F.L. championship game was Super Bowl LVI, or 56.)

Despite its high-profile golfers and its big-money backing, LIV Golf has not yet secured a broadcast rights agreement in the United States — the most lucrative market for televised sports — and will be shown on lesser-watched streaming services in much of the world. (Here’s a full list of non-U.S. options.) That doesn’t mean you can’t watch in the United States, though: This week’s tournament will be available via live streams on LIVGolf.com, YouTube and Facebook.

Normally, television networks would have jumped at the chance to show live sports during slow times on the calendar; witness yet another spring football league being shown on television. But ESPN, CBS, NBC and Amazon are in the first year of a nine-year agreement that has them collectively paying hundreds of millions of dollars annually to the PGA Tour to show tournaments. Those networks may have their fill of golf. They may also not want to court controversy, nor anger their business partner, the PGA Tour.

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History suggests, however, that if LIV Golf does prove to be a success, major rights agreements won’t be far behind. With consumers continuing to slowly abandon pay television, live sports is just about the only type of programming that delivers large, and lucrative, audiences anymore. And the streaming services that are luring those consumers away know that live sports is one of the best ways to get new customers, and keep old ones.

Not exactly. We asked Ben Hubbard, who covers the Middle East as the Beirut bureau chief for The Times and has written a book on Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, to explain the kingdom’s motivations in a bit more depth. His response:

Saudi Arabia’s backing of the new series is the latest example of the way oil-rich Gulf monarchies use their vast wealth to invest in sports and cultural institutions in hopes of raising their countries’ international profiles and shifting how they are viewed by people in Western countries.



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