LIV director details CW negotiations, hints at future deals

After signing a television deal with The CW, Will Steiger, LIV’s chief communications officer, said more media deals could be on the horizon.

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Will Steiger, LIV’s chief communications officer, takes a second to say that Christmas came a little late this year. It takes another person to understand that he means it literally.

“I think the hardest part was the schedule,” Steger told on Friday, the day after LIV announced the disputes. multi-year deal with its first television partner, The CW. “We wanted to get him [the deal] We put in enough time to get coverage from our first event, which really made it a time scare.”

Then he tells the truth more clearly.

“None of us really had a vacation.”

As it turns out, even that reduces sales. It took until January 19 – almost a month into the new year – for Steiger and his team to earn until the weekend. But with the ink dry on a deal that would tie the Saudi-backed Torah League to a much-needed American TV partner for the foreseeable future, last Friday night could have been Christmas Eve.

“I hope we get some well-deserved days here,” Steiger said with a laugh.

He and his team successfully brought a television producer from its inception to a national television deal within nine months. That’s an unprecedented feat in the hyper-capitalist world of sports TV, even if it’s LIV do it Enjoy a handful of unprecedented perks, like billions in seed money from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (much of it funneled directly into the media team Steiger now oversees).

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James Colgan

“I’m sure it’s a record in history — from launching a new league to nine and a half months later with a network rights deal for an entire season,” Steiger said. “It’s funny, I think LIV has been in the news for a long time, I think all the time people feel it’s been a long time. The truth is, we did eight events, and then we moved on to the broadcast deal. “

Yes, it helps that Staeger has a production budget that rivals most major networks, with millions more to provide works like Premier League’s Arlo White and NBC’s David Faherty. (And who can LIV’s brief flirtation with A Charles Barkley broadcast a big deal?) But it’s hard to argue with his claim that the CW deal represents a significant step forward for the progressive league. Instead, it’s easier to dig into the details of the new arrangement with The CW, much of which remains a mystery more than a week after the deal was first reported.

According to Steiger, LIV received bids from “multiple networks” by the fall 2022 bid deadline, though he did not say which networks are among the potential bidders or how many are in the works. (Over the summer, LIV CEO Greg Norman told ESPN1000 Chicago The league was in active negotiationswith “Four Different Networks”.

After receiving offers, The CW emerged as a finalist from the pool of bidders about a month ago. Negotiations heated up soon after and settled into their final form within the first few days of the new year.

“Very few deals of this size have been closed in what was — until we were in exclusive negotiations — maybe three weeks,” Steiger said.

For a league that isn’t afraid to gas the news cycle with fodder for an $800 million Tiger Woods offer, LIV is pretty worried about its TV deal. The university did not disclose details of the finances or the duration of the deal, saying only that the agreement will last for “several years” and that LIV will not pay the network for the broadcast. (the Sports Business JournalJon Aurand’s Jon Aurand reported Tuesday that the deal is for two years, with a one-year option based on viewership.)

“First of all, for the record, he didn’t buy time,” Steiger said. “We’ve said from the beginning that we’re not interested in buying time with anyone. We don’t feel we have to.”

Staiger’s description leaves a lot of room for interpretation of the deal itself, especially as to which parts of it will bring financial gain to the advanced league. No one from the league has publicly stated whether LIV will receive a “rights fee” or a one-time annual payment from the network for the “right” to air LIV events. Such agreements are common practice in most major television deals in sports and generate the vast majority of television revenue for the leagues. Sources told last week that LIV will not receive an immediate rights fee from The CW. Instead of a rights fee, the best way for LIV to profit financially from the CWC may come in the form of revenue sharing between the two parties. Traditionally, these agreements involve splitting a portion of the advertising revenue generated from the property’s broadcasts.

“The model I liked to talk about was how NBC Sports handled the Premier League in the US, how ESPN and Formula 1 merged with Netflix and Drive to Survive,” Steiger said. property in the United States.”

If the income distribution he The way forward For LIV, at least in the short term, a separate issue arises. Under The CW’s current deal with audience tracking service Nielsen, weekend viewing numbers aren’t tracked by the network, meaning LIV won’t be able to show advertisers the value of paid time slots without a separate agreement. Stager admitted it was too early to say how the two sides would bridge the data gap, but the promised viewership statistics would be available for LIV in 2023.

“This is critical to our plans,” he said.

But not every benefit of a television deal is a cash benefit. As Stager points out, LIV’s deal with The CW — a network that reaches more than 120 million households in the United States — has an opportunity to expand the league’s reach and viewership. Its new owner, Nexstar, has big plans to turn the network into an entertainment powerhouse (using sports as a core part of that platform), following the blueprint first laid out by FOX nearly two decades ago. The nature of the agreement is such that each party is heavily invested in the success of the other.

“There’s a strong promotional commitment that The CW will make,” Steiger said. Almost everyone in the organization, from the executive level down, is excited about our products, and they expressed it early on. They share our vision.” “Being their number one sport, I think that makes it even better. In a way, we are treated like the NFL is to them. So I think that will help with ratings, and it will help increase our viewership.”

There are other factors that will help increase ratings and in turn revenue for all parties involved. One way is through additional rights deals. LIV’s deal with The CW includes its American programming, but the league is still free to buy the rest of the broadcast rights to international partners. Steiger hinted that more news about these deals could come soon.

“We are currently in negotiations in every region of the world,” he said. “We just wanted to announce it first.”

Another avenue for growth is through “original programming” — an opportunity Steiger singled out as part of LIV’s efforts to boost support for golf fans. That could mean creating a documentary-style TV show similar to Full Swing, the upcoming PGA Tour docu-series on Netflix. Such programming could live on The CW, Stager said, but it could also be marketed to other networks and/or broadcast properties.

“Think ‘Drive to Survive’ or ‘The Last Dance,'” he said. “Programming is the sword that connects the viewers and the space with the personalities of your stars and your league. I’m looking at the NBA and NFL, and we plan to follow their progress.”

Acting like multi-billion dollar corporations like the NBA and NFL is, of course, one thing, another To be they. Viewership is at the heart of the NFL and NBA’s success, and it’s also why networks like ESPN, NBC, TNT and CBS spend billions in rights fees. LIV’s plans will be crucial if the league is unable to sow discord among audiences and advertisers to make its initial broadcast deal with The CW worth the airtime. It’s a goal that will require massive support from the several hundred thousand views on YouTube last year for each championship round.

However, with the 2023 schedule and US broadcast partner officially out, LIV Golf’s short-term future is finally taking shape, and what does that future look like?

LIV CEO Greg Norman told Fox News: “We are completely entrenched. We know where we are going. And we know what we’re doing.”

Before his first free weekend in months, it was even more encouraging to see Will Steiger.

“We are a rocket ship,” he said. “We’re about to take off.”

He is right about one thing: the countdown has begun.

James Colgan editor

James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories to the website and the magazine. He writes Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and leverages his broadcasting experience on social media and branded video platforms. James, who graduated from Syracuse University in 2019 and plays golf, is still melting in the snow for four years. Before joining GOLF, James was a scholarship holder (and golfer) on Long Island, where he is from. It can be obtained at [email protected]

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