CW Says LIV Golf Event Drew 3.2 Million Viewers

Abraham Ancer of FIREBALLS GC plays a shot during the LIV Golf Invitational - Mayakoba at El Camaleon at Mayakoba
LIV golfer Abraham Ancer swings during event broadcast by the CW (Image credit: Photo by Juan Luis Diaz/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Countering early reports of low ratings from Nielsen, Nexstar Media and its The CW network said that more than 3.2 million people watched its first LIV Golf League event.

The CW used data from measurement company iSpot along with internal CW and LIV Golf digital data to come up with a figure for viewing across all platforms.

LIV Golf, a competitor to golf’s PGA Tour, is controversial because of its backing by the Saudi Arabian investment fund and it was difficult for LIV Golf to find a television partner.

The CW is not paying a rights fee for LIV Golf. It has a revenue-sharing arrangement with LIV Golf, which is paying production expenses.

Nexstar CEO Perry Sook said viewership of the tournament exceeded expectations on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call this week. Nexstar acquired a 75% interest in The CW last year and expects it to turn profitable by 2025.

Also Read: The CW Shares LIV Golf Broadcast Schedule

New data from The CW said the LIV Golf event lifted the network’s weekend primetime national ratings by 24% and increased local market ratings in 10 top markets by double digits.

Downloads of The CW app jumped by near 1 million in February–a 40% increase–in the run up to the LIV Golf telecast. 

“This was a great start for LIV Golf and a great debut for CW Sports,” said Dennis Miller, President of The CW Network. “We are really encouraged by the dramatic viewership increases we saw across our affiliates. The performance of LIV Golf is very competitive with other longstanding sports leagues, and we are confident that the audience for the league will continue growing throughout the season, as The CW delivers high quality sports programming to our broadcasting and advertising partners for the first time.”

The ratings were dampened by CBS-owned CW affiliates not carrying LIV Golf because of CBS’s long association with the PGA Tour. The CW found other stations in those markets to carry its golf coverage.

The next Live Golf event airs March 17-19 from Tucson, Ariz.■

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.