These are golden times for sport on TV.
Okay, so it will cost you a small fortune to have subscription packages to Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon Prime, as well as a pretty penny to pick up some of the American channels, but in terms of depth of coverage the picture has perhaps never been better.
It’s good news for each sport’s governing body too. Sky and BT came together to pay more than £5 billion to extend their Premier League football rights deal, while in the US the package to show NFL games on television is now worth a handsome $10 billion (£9 billion) per season.
Even golf, which is not as in-demand as a TV spectacle it would be fair to say, has had its day in the sun, with the PGA TOUR striking a deal with various networks in America that sees them net $700 million (£633 million) a year from their broadcast rights.
It would take a spectacular own goal for any commercial team in sport not to capitalise on the booming market, and yet LIV Golf – the sport’s rebel tour funded by Saudi Arabian aristocracy – have made a habit of tripping themselves up in their clumsy inaugural year.
So much so, not only have they not been able to source a money-spinning TV rights deal of their own, they will instead themselves have to pay a broadcaster to show their tournaments!
LIV representatives have been in negotiations with Fox Sports to effectively buy screen time, after initially streaming events for free on YouTube. A report in The Guardian claims that the tour’s reps had contacted Apple, Amazon, NBC and Disney with a chance to purchase the rights, and all allegedly turned LIV down.
If you were planning on launching your own sporting franchise, this is exactly how not to do it….
(We Won’t) See You In Court
Golf’s civil war will undergo another skirmish early next year when several LIV players attempt to sue the PGA TOUR over their suspension from their former employer.
It’s all to do with how players are treated. Should their be tied to one particular tour, or are they ‘independent contractors’ who should be allowed to seek their fortune as and where they please?
The latter is what LIV are arguing, although their case has taken a blow after several of their most high-profile players dropped their names from the lawsuit.
Phil Mickelson and Ian Poulter have joined the likes of Talor Gooch and Abraham Ancer in withdrawing their names from the action, and of the eleven that originally planned to sue the PGA TOUR, only three remain.
One LIV rebel who will have his day in court is Patrick Reed.
The former Masters champion has filed a mammoth lawsuit against the Golf Channel and several of its named employees. He wants an eye-watering $750 million (£680 million) in damages after alleging that the network’s broadcast analysts variously described Reed as a ‘cheater, liar, a thief, a murderer and someone who accepts blood money from terrorists.’