Like any fledgling company in almost any type of business, LIV Golf will unveil its product to the public later this week in a promotional blaze of promise and proposed progress. Since he doesn’t have much product to speak of, at least for now, the renegade tour has to rely on his presentation of those early events as a method of building a fanbase.
Given that his top three streaming partners so far are YouTube, Facebook, and his own website (LIVGolf.com), this won’t come easily. None of these outlets can claim any past association with live golf programming. Internet/streaming traffic still represents a very small percentage of those watching PGA Tour events, and it’s reasonable to assume that a good number of ardent followers will skip LIV tournaments on pure principle.
Not that those behind the upstart faction care the least about television ratings. Money is no object, income is hardly a priority as Saudis seek other forms of value as part of their mission, attention being one of them. Perhaps the best way to get noticed is to stage a high-end TV show that incorporates visuals and graphics that viewers don’t get from CBS or NBC – and fully embrace the appeal of gaming. legalized, which none of the major networks made an effort to pursue.
Armed with 50 cameras, 16 aerial viewpoints and 60 microphones, LIV Golf is touting Thursday’s launch in London as an audiovisual extravaganza of unprecedented depth and dynamism. “A reimagined experience,” says a company spokesperson, who adds that “additional upgrades” will be introduced throughout the season for this “one-of-a-kind show.”
Who needs a world-class champ when you’ve got more bells and whistles than Willy Wonka? Just seven years ago, Fox Sports, after paying $1.1 billion to televise the US Open (and four other USGA championships), through 2026, left no superlatives untouched when announcing its advanced technology and how it would revolutionize golf coverage forever. Due to COVID-19 and subsequent NFL scheduling conflicts, Fox walked away from the USGA deal not halfway through before it was complete.
To call this transaction a disaster would be a gross overstatement, but the outgoing network has shown little interest in continuing its relationship with the little white ball. It’s certainly no coincidence that LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, who only lasted one season as Fox’s senior analyst (2015), has held several crucial positions with men who have also cashed fellow Australian Rupert Murdoch’s paychecks at one point or another.
In keeping with CBS’s ingrained premise that at least half of all on-air golf talent must speak in a foreign accent, there will be no respite from this familiar quirk on LIV productions. It’s a global company, remember, a de facto outfit operating under the name Asian Tour, which doesn’t explain why an Englishman with extensive experience as a football announcer was hired to call his golf tournaments.
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Arlo White is a tried-and-true product in the stand, strong enough to anchor NBC’s Premier League showcase since its inception in 2013, but the golf-watching constituency can be an unwinnable bunch if it senses a lack of knowledge. rooted. White will be joined by former Asian Tour mate Dom Boulet and longtime Golf Channel analyst Jerry Foltz, who ranks just behind Gary Koch on the unofficial short list of the game’s most underrated voices. .
Given the backlash emerging in the United States over the existence of LIV Golf – the PGA Tour’s vehement opposition to anything resembling a rival, Phil Mickelson’s nonsense, Norman’s inexcusable comments regarding the death by Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi – it’s hard to imagine sports commentators of any reputation showing an interest in working for the Saudis.
Foltz waited years for a spot on someone’s starting roster, and while he always seemed content covering women’s golf, that opportunity likely came with a salary he couldn’t. to refuse. The rest of the on-air cast will register as anonymous to many Americans — much like the majority of golfers they talk about.
Mickelson may remain an outcast to many, but his fan club is big and loyal, dismissive of the public damnation that led to his exile. The potential defection of Rickie Fowler, another popularity contest winner whose career has steadily faltered for the past three years, could be in the best interest of both parties. His loss would have little to no impact on the endless depth of the PGA Tour.
A handful of household names, many of whom are past their competitive primes, don’t make up a big-league home roster. It might take every scrap of paper in the suggestion box to brand this thing with an identity – if there’s one thing the game doesn’t need, it’s another obscure tour. And if there’s one thing Norman could use right now, it’s a reliable partnership with the gaming industry.
Something interactive and easy to access. Something that offers a direct link between the audience and the action itself. Something that emboldens LIV Golf TV shows with a truly progressive, youth-friendly edge.
Something that gives people a real reason to check out Norman’s collection of millionaire rebels and faceless misfits. For a well-funded product looking for immediate altitude, the legit bet is a wildcard with wings. A safe bet, as we say with a wink.
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