“No one’s ever witnessed it,” Emmy-award-winning cinematographer Andy Brandy Casagrande IV told Mental Floss in 2018.
While Casagrande was talking about mating in great white sharks, up until now he could also have been describing the television market for LIV Golf: the Saudi-backed league has had no broadcast partner through its first five events.
Last week however a frontrunner, Fox Sports, emerged for the job of how the world could witness LIV Golf — a story perhaps no less mysterious than the courtship rituals of the sea’s most fearsome predator.
LIV Golf, the upstart professional golf league headed by Greg Norman — long nicknamed the Great White Shark after his performance at the 1981 Masters — is reported to be in talks with “virtually every major media company,” according to comments made by LIV’s chief media officer, Will Staeger, to Front Office Sports.
Currently, the circuit’s tournaments are only available online, but those running the maverick golf organization insist that a television deal is in the works.
Fox Sports is the leading contender for LIV Golf’s U.S. media rights, sources told FOS.
There are still several media outlets in the mix.
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) September 16, 2022
“All I can tell you is that the interest coming across our plate right now is enormous,” LIV CEO Greg Norman told ESPN 1000 in Chicago this past week.
Because most major television sports operations — including CBS, NBC and ESPN — are all in the early stages of contracts with the established PGA Tour and thus unavailable to broadcast LIV content, Fox Sports has emerged as a leading suitor according to most observers as the network at present has no golf presence.
Yet while there is a certain logic to the pairing, it would also mean a certain amount of backpedaling for both Norman and Fox, who once upon a time partnered together for a USGA package that has since been sold to NBC.
While Fox is the largest American broadcaster without at least some connection to the PGA Tour, producing LIV Golf content would require the network to once again do business with Norman — and as Alan Bastable reported in 2016, “a Fox source who asked to remain anonymous told GOLF.com that Norman didn’t adequately prepare for the broadcasts.”
To broadcast LIV, then, would suggest that the network did not think Norman to be capable of doing golf announcing, but more than capable of running a billion-dollar operation.
Conversely, Norman at the time of his firing said that he thought he was being scapegoated for the problems of Fox Sports, which was widely criticized for its coverage of the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay.
The New York Post reported then that Norman had claimed that a story he wanted to do regarding how the “greens were not US [Open]-quality greens for the players to play on” got spiked by the network.
For LIV to accept Fox as its broadcast partner then would seem to require the two-time major winner to allow Fox to cover golf with the sort of free hand he argued the network did not have six years ago.
Neither golf league nor broadcaster has however committed as yet. Still, the history of both suggests that even if they do tie the knot, it’s unlikely to be the end of the story.