Saudi Golf League In Talks Over Controversial TV Deal

NEP Group is discussing a deal with LIV Golf that could put strain on its relationship with the PGA Tour

Phil Mickelson and Greg Norman talk before the 2022 PIF Saudi International
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The looming LIV Golf Invitational Series has caused plenty of controversies, including whether players who sign up for it will be banned from their current tours, the clash of its events with the PGA Tour and the fallout from Phil Mickelson's controversial comments related to it. Now, another issue is threatening more disruption.

According to a report in Sports Business Journal (opens in new tab), TV production company NEP Group is on the verge of striking a deal with the Greg Norman-fronted series. While that may not seem problematic at first glance, if it happens, it will present a conflict as NEP Group is already heavily involved with the PGA Tour. The potential for the clash began last month when NEP Group bid for the rights to handle the series along with rival companies, including Game Creek Video and Gravity Media. LIV Golf chose NEP as its preferred bid.

Neither entity has yet signed on the dotted line, but if a deal is struck, it will make NEP Group an outlier as a company with arrangements with both the LIV Golf Invitational Series and the PGA Tour. That’s because the latter has been largely successful in dissuading companies it has deals with from joining forces with the new competition.

NEP Group describes itself as “the leading technology partner for content creators around the globe” and already works with the PGA Tour to help produce the live content that US sports fans access via NBC, CBS and ESPN. If the company closes a deal with LIV Golf, it is feared that it could harm the its relationship with the PGA Tour in the future.

Related to this potential issue, there is still the matter of which broadcasters will cover the new series. Most of the biggest US media companies already have link-ups with the PGA Tour. They are unlikely to risk putting those deals under strain by covering the eight-tournament series, which starts at London’s Centurion Club on 9 June. LIV Golf had reportedly been in discussion with Fox over a deal, but that has cooled in recent weeks.

The news comes hot-on-the-heels of a report that the world’s six top amateurs have been approached to participate in the series, with Norman also admitting that Mickelson’s comments earlier this year created negative momentum against it.

 

Mike Hall
Mike Hall

Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.