LIV Golf’s CW debut scores low rankings; Nexstar CEO bullish

The LIV Golf League promised to be “golf but louder,” however TV rankings for its season opener in Mexico final weekend recommended few individuals had been listening or watching.

The CW’s inaugural reside broadcast of the LIV Golf League drew a mean of 289,000 viewers and a 0.18 family score on Saturday and Sunday. The opening spherical on Friday was obtainable to U.S. viewers on the CW app and the league’s official web site.

Speaking to reporters throughout an earnings name Tuesday, Perry Sook — CEO of Nexstar, The CW’s father or mother firm — stated it was nonetheless an excellent begin for the circuit, which is being financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and fronted by two-time Open Championship winner Greg Norman.

Sook instructed reporters that 1.4 million individuals watched at the least a couple of minutes of the LIV Golf League event at Mayakoba, both throughout The CW broadcast community or on the CW app.

“Those numbers exceeded our expectations, and, most importantly, the affiliates as well as our own stations were thrilled,” Sook stated. “I know that our affiliates and CW affiliates in the top 10 markets generated about three times the amount of money that the network generated for this first outing, and so it’s selling very well, and, you know, and I think will continue to grow as we get more into the season and more involved.”

LIV Golf’s rankings did not come near matching these of the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic, which, for Saturday and Sunday, averaged about 593,000 viewers on the Golf Channel and about 2 million viewers on NBC.

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With the Honda Classic sandwiched between 4 of the PGA Tour’s greatest occasions, many of the tour’s prime stars did not play within the event. In reality, not one of the prime 17 gamers on the planet competed within the opening occasion of the tour’s Florida swing, with most specializing in two upcoming designated occasions, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players Championship. The Honda Classic’s weak area was one of many causes LIV Golf determined to stage its first occasion final week.

There at the least was some drama within the Honda Classic: Chris Kirk defeated rookie Eric Cole in a playoff Sunday to win for the primary time in almost eight years.

There wasn’t almost as a lot intrigue in Mexico: Charles Howell III received the person title by 4 strokes, and his Crushers GC squad received the group title by 9 pictures.

Tiger Woods’ return Feb. 16-19 on the Genesis, after a layoff of almost seven months, averaged 3.12 million viewers on CBS on the weekend, a 32% enhance from the identical occasion in 2022. Final-round protection drew a 2.1 score and a mean of three.42 million viewers.

It is LIV Golf’s second 12 months of competitors, and it has signed a number of former PGA Tour stars, together with Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Cameron Smith. The inaugural season’s occasions had been broadcast on YouTube, the league’s official web site and streaming service DAZN.

Brandon Katz, an leisure trade strategist with Parrot Analytics, stated it is too early to know whether or not LIV Golf and The CW can be a profitable partnership.

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“This is The CW’s first foray into live sports,” Katz instructed ESPN. “They’re doing it with an embryonic sports league. It takes a long time to shape and condition viewership behavior among audiences. People are not used to associating The CW with live sports, so there is going to be a runway, a transitional period, as they attempt to familiarize their audience and the audience they’re hoping to reach with this new big offering. To compare them to PGA numbers at this earlier juncture is a tough swallow.”

Katz stated that linear sports activities proceed to be the No. 1 gateway for linear TV and more and more for streaming providers and that sports activities are nonetheless larger sights than scripted sequence and different leisure choices.

“Obviously, this is an upstart league trying to take on an incumbent, and that’s going to take time and money,” Katz stated. “We know they’ve got a big financial runway. I think what you want to see is growth over these events for the first year. You would definitely want to see tournament-over-tournament increases. I think it takes a long time to establish a new league and make sure that the audiences are aware and the right audiences you want to expand into are aware.”

LIV Golf’s subsequent occasion is in Tucson, Arizona, March 17-19. It will go head-to-head in opposition to the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship, which can be a non-designated event.