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LIV Golf's Broadcast Partner CW Cutting Away from a 3-Way Playoff to Show Basic Cable Garbage is Not a Good Sign for the Tour's Future

Asanka Brendon Ratnayake. Shutterstock Images.

Personally, I thought outrage over the very existence of the LIV Golf tour was an example of blatant hypocrisy. Take a hard moral stance against abuses of power committed by the Saudi government all you want, because you're right. Expose the way despotic regimes around the globe have hid their evil deeds with "sportswashing" over the last century or so, and no one will argue against your point. 

But if you're going to demand athletes stop taking money from immoral governments, clear you calendar. Because that's a long list. One that includes, well, pretty much every sport and a lot of countries. After all, those $250 sneakers aren't being made in Des Moines by union workers with good pay and benefits. Nor are the phones that record Greg Norman's answers to tough questions posed by indignant reporters. Neither is the gas that got them to the press conference. 

The point being that this is an ugly, messy world we've spent millions of years creating. And the only way to truly avoid taking blood money from people we object to is to go off the grid entirely and live in a hollow tree in the forest somewhere. Besides, the people I count on to solve all the world's problems are the ones we elect to do that very thing. I don't expect Phil Mickelson to handle these complex international issues any more than I expect it from the Miss America contestants who get asked about them. 

All that said, LIV hasn't exactly been crushing it. Or made any forget about the PGA Tour. Despite the fact Norman assembled golf's Avengers like an Aussie Nick Fury, it's been hard to detect any sort of cultural impact. Maybe it's just me and my friends, but I can't recall a single conversation with anyone where we talked about a LIV event since their first tournament last year. The only time it ever gets mentioned at all is when LIV guys show up to The Masters or whatever.

On the other hand, I guess it's not just us. It's everyone. This weekend, they had an event that should've generated something approximating buzz. Three of their biggest, most recognizable names. In a playoff:

And yet the network LIV partners with couldn't be bothered to stick around to find out how it ended up:

Source - There was a bit of a problem though. A previous weather delay pushed the finish deeper into the evening and some local CW affiliates opted to show other things instead of golf once it ran past its allotted time. …

[U]nlucky fans could still watch on the app, but that's both a barrier to entry and a less enjoyable user experience. And it highlights a problem for LIV because the terms of their broadcast partnership with the CW are unique in the space. They are paying for the time, not the other way around like with the PGA Tour and its broadcasters. …

This is the best LIV could do for this round of negotiating and what went down is an inherent downside of not having a better deal.

As you can imagine, the few LIV fans who were watching found CW's less than optimal. Even with the great programming being offered in different markets:

LIV might have some of the greatest golfers playing the greatest rounds in the history of the sport. But when you're getting pre-empted by game shows, infomercials, and comedy/magic legends, you're still an amateur operation. No matter how many hundreds of millions are backing you up. And even if there were weather delays. There is literally not another sports league operating in North America where this would happen, without it getting moved to a sister network, at the very least. Hell, if the Cornhole Championships are coming down to the wire and ESPN has to go to Sunday Night Baseball, that pulse-pounding finish will be found on ESPN2 without fail. 

And the kicker is, if it wasn't for people complaining on Twitter, the world wouldn't even have noticed. For all the unrest going on across the US back in 1968, the one thing that almost tore the country into pieces was when NBC cut away from a Jets-Raiders AFL game to show the movie Heidi:

The network got flooded with so many angry phone calls and letters, that the takeaway was they realized pro football was king in America, and started programming it accordingly. LIV Golf just got the same treatment from Chicago PD and Family Feud, and got slightly more than crickets in response. 

The LIV tour can survive forever on the money it's backed with, because profits aren't the point of the exercise. But it's hard to imagine at this point that much of anyone is going to care.