LIV Golf TV ratings show clear winner in PGA Tour war after Jon Rahm signing

Even after splashing to secure Jon Rahm and other stars ahead of the 2024 season, LIV Golf cannot keep pace with the PGA Tour’s leading television viewership numbers



LIV Golf is struggling to attract golf fans to tune in on broadcasts of the controversial breakaway circuit despite spending big money on new acquisitions like Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton.


Hatton became the latest big name from the PGA Tour to defect after reigning Masters champion Rahm joined the controversial breakaway league last month. The Saudi-backed series league secured Rahm’s services by inking him to a deal worth up to £450million – and Hatton followed suit with a £50m move of his own.


However, the star power has failed to attract fans. The final round of LIV Las Vegas drew 297,000 viewers on the CW, with the telecast ultimately finishing 51st for all sport programs that day – level with the Golf Central pregame show ahead of PGA Tour coverage.



The PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open was immense in comparison, tallying 1.7 million viewers as it ranked third in sports programming for the day. When the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am was suspended due to weather, LIV Golf’s Mayakoba event produced a record audience of 432,000 but still lost out to a CBS Sunday re-air of the third round of the PGA Tour event, which brought in three times as many viewers.


Ultimately, it seems fans resonate more with the history, tradition and legacy of the PGA Tour. LIV Golf remains lagging behind when it comes to attract viewers, which deeply affects the circuit’s ability to secure a broadcast partner for early tournament coverage – and without fan interest, LIV’s long-term future is undoubtedly limited.


Given LIV’s model, it remains to be seen just how willing Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund will be to consistently throw lucrative sums at top players if dollars fail to translate into viewers.


LIV has a revenue-sharing deal with the CW, which broadcasts the final two rounds of each event but the first round is aired on YouTube and the CW app – so no television revenue is generated for a third of the tournament.



Last year, LIV Golf made approximately £2.4m in TV revenue while the PGA Tour made over £400m. This may be down to the PGA Tour’s revered venues and tournaments, littered with the sport’s storied history compared to LIV Golf’s new format which has failed to truly inspire the sport’s fanbase; players are representing teams that the average fan has little – or zero – emotional investment in.



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Looking ahead, the next two LIV Golf events are unlikely to see viewership improvements. They are set to be held in Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong next month, when American fans will be asleep. LIV Hong Kong also will go head-to-head with the Arnold Palmer Invitational, while future events also clash with marquee PGA Tour events.


LIV Houston will face competition from the Memorial Tournament, LIV Nashville is on alongside the Travelers Championship, and LIV Andalucia is on at the same time as the Genesis Scottish Open. Meanwhile, LIV Greenbrier is competing against the FedEx St. Jude.


Merger talks between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf are ongoing, although they are currently affected by US Government intervention. Meanwhile, The PGA Tour recently approved a £2.4 billion investment deal with Strategic Sports Group to give almost 200 PGA Tour members the opportunity to hold equity in PGA Tour Enterprises as part of a reward for staying loyal and shunning LIV Golf.



Gideon Canice

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