After signing a TV deal with The CW, LIV media manager Will Staeger said more media deals could be on the horizon.

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    It takes a second to understand Will Staeger, Media Director of LIV, when he says Christmas came late this year. It takes another to realize that he means that literally.

    “I think the hardest part was the schedule,” Staeger told on Friday, a day after LIV announced it had reached a multi-year deal with its first-ever television partner, The CW. “We wanted to get [the deal] done in enough time to get coverage of our first event, which really made it a time crunch.

    Then he spells out the truth more clearly.

    “None of us really had a vacation.”

    In the end, even that undersells it. It took until January 19 — nearly a month into the new year — for Staeger and his team to earn as much as a weekend off. But with the ink dry on a deal that will tie the Saudi-backed upstart league to a much-needed US television partner for the foreseeable future, last Friday night might as well have been Christmas Eve.

    “Hopefully we’ll have some well-deserved days off coming here,” Staeger said with a laugh.

    He and his staff managed to take a TV product from inception to a national TV deal in the space of nine months. It’s an unprecedented feat in the hyper-capitalist world of sports television, even if LIV does enjoy a handful of unprecedented perks, like billions in seed capital from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (much of it funneled directly to the media team that Staeger now oversees).

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    “I’m pretty sure that’s a record in history – from the launch of a new league to nine and a half months later, a broadcast network media rights deal for an entire season,” he said. said Staeger. “It’s funny, I think LIV has been in the news for so long, so all the time that I think people feel like it’s been a long time. The truth is, we had eight events and then we We’ve gone to a broadcast deal.

    Yes, it’s benefited Staeger to have a production budget rivaling most major networks, with millions more to deliver flashy signings like the Premier League’s Arlo White and NBC’s David Feherty. (And who could forget LIV’s brief flirtation with a Charles Barkley broadcast megadeal?) But it’s hard to make his point that the CW deal marks a striking step forward for the upstart league. Instead, it’s easier to quibble over the details of the new CW deal, many of which still remain a mystery more than a week after the deal was first announced.

    According to Staeger, LIV received offers from “several networks” by its fall 2022 bid deadline, although he would not say which networks were among the potential suitors or how many networks were in the running. . (Over the summer, LIV CEO Greg Norman told ESPN1000 Chicago the league was in “active negotiations” with “four different networks”.)

    After receiving the bids, The CW became the finalist in the bidding group about a month ago. Negotiations heated up soon after, taking their final shape in the early days of the new year.

    “Very few deals of this magnitude have been completed in what was – at the time we were in exclusive negotiation – maybe three weeks,” Staeger said.

    For a league that isn’t afraid to fuel the news cycle with an $800 million offer from Tiger Woods, LIV is visibly coy about their TV deal. The league won’t divulge details about the finances or length of the deal, offering only that the deal will run for “several years” and that LIV won’t pay the network for airtime. (The Sports Business Journal‘s John Ourand reported on Tuesday that the deal is for two years, with a one-year option based on viewership.)

    “First of all, for the record, it’s not a time saver,” Staeger said. “We said from the start that we’re not interested in stalling anyone. We don’t feel obligated to do that.

    Staeger’s description leaves a lot of room for interpretation of the deal itself, especially regarding the parts of it that will result in financial gain for the upstart league. No one in the league has publicly stated whether LIV will receive a “rights fee” or annual lump sum payment from the network in exchange for the “right” to broadcast LIV’s events. Such deals are standard practice in most major sports television deals and generate the vast majority of league television revenue. Sources told last week that LIV will not immediately receive a rights fee from The CW. Instead of a rights fee, the best way for LIV to financially benefit from the CW deal could come in the form of a revenue split between the two parties. Traditionally, these deals include sharing a share of advertising revenue generated as a result of the property’s broadcasts.

    “The model I liked to talk about is how NBC Sports ran the English Premier League in the US, and how ESPN and Formula 1 combined with Netflix and ‘Drive to Survive’,” Staeger said. “These agreements have really increased the popularity of ownership in the United States”

    If a revenue share is the way forward for LIV, at least in the short term, a separate question arises. Under the CW’s current deal with viewership tracking service Nielsen, weekend viewership numbers aren’t tracked on the network, meaning LIV will be unable to show advertisers the value of their paid time slots without a separate agreement. Staeger admitted it was still early days to know how the two sides would close the data gap, but promised there would be audience metrics available for LIV in 2023.

    “It’s critical to our plans,” he said.

    But not all the benefits of a TV deal are financial. As Staeger points out, LIV’s deal with The CW — a network that reaches more than 120 million homes in the United States — has the potential to expand the league’s reach and audience. Its new owners, Nexstar, have big plans to turn the network into an entertainment powerhouse (using sports as a key part of that platform), following the plan first laid out by FOX about two decades ago. The nature of the deal is such that each party is deeply invested in the success of the other.

    “There is a strong promotional commitment that the CW will put in place. Virtually everyone in the organization, from top to bottom management, is excited about our products, and they expressed it early on. They share our vision,” Staeger said. “Being their first sport, I think it improves the situation. In a way, we’re treated like the NFL to them. So I think it will help the ratings, and it will help grow our audience.

    There are other levers to help increase ratings and, by extension, revenue for all parties involved. One possibility is to enter into additional rights agreements. LIV’s deal with The CW encompasses its US-based programming, but the league still has the freedom to purchase the rest of its broadcast rights from international partners. Staeger hinted that more news on these deals could be coming very soon.

    “We are in negotiations in all territories of the world at the moment,” he said. “We just wanted to announce this one first.”

    Another avenue for growth is “original programming” — an opportunity Staeger specifically noted as part of LIV’s efforts to build support for golf audiences. That could mean creating a documentary-style TV show in the genre of “Full Swing,” the PGA Tour-focused docuseries soon to hit Netflix. Such programming could live on The CW, Staeger said, but could also be purchased on other networks and/or streaming properties.

    “Think ‘Drive to Survive’ or ‘The Last Dance,'” he said. “Programming is the sword that really connects viewers and the space to your star and league personalities. I watch the NBA and the NFL, and we plan to follow in their footsteps.

    Of course, it’s one thing to act like the multi-billion dollar corporations that are the NBA and NFL, it’s another to be their. Viewership is at the heart of the success of the NFL and NBA, and it’s also why networks like ESPN, NBC, TNT and CBS shell out billions in rights fees. LIV’s plans will mean very little if the league finds itself unable to compete with audiences and advertisers to make their primary broadcast deal with The CW worth its airtime. This is a goal that will require a significant increase from last year’s few hundred thousand YouTube views per tournament round.

    Still, with a 2023 schedule and a US broadcast partner officially established, LIV Golf’s near-term future is finally taking shape. And what does that future look like?

    “We’re fully grounded,” LIV CEO Greg Norman told Fox News. “We know where we are going. We know what we are doing.

    Ahead of his first free weekend in months, Will Staeger’s vision was even more encouraging.

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

    He is right on one point: the countdown has begun.

    James Colgan Editor

    James Colgan is associate editor at GOLF, contributing articles to the website and magazine. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and uses his experience broadcasting across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and obviously, his golf game — is still thawing after four years in the snow. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddy scholarship recipient (and crafty looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at

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