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LIV Golf is No Longer Releasing its TV Ratings, Which Does Not Bode Well for Them

Ian Maule. Getty Images.

With the PGA Championship about to start, it'll be the first time the vast majority of us will have seen the members of the LIV Golf tour since The Masters. Which is not to say it's the first time we've been able to see the LIV guys since Augusta. Just the first time practically anyone has bothered. 

Their tournaments have been available. Mainly on that network that's known for shows about second-tier DC superheroes (not a knock on Daredevil or Jessica Jones, which were excellent) and angst-ridden teen paranormal dramas. Which didn't serve LIV well when their last tournament ran into weather delays and went late:

Now LIV has quietly let it be known they're going to treat their TV viewing numbers like your wife does when you're making all the logical points in an argument. They're no longer discussing it. 

Source - No one seems ready to say where things are headed for LIV Golf. Apparently not even LIV Golf.

Six events and three months into its sophomore season, LIV has quietly stopped publicly reporting its TV ratings, reversing course on an early-season strategy, and a sign that the league could be struggling to generate sufficient viewer interest. …

LIV sources confirmed to the Hot Mic that the league would not be reporting viewership data from its U.S. broadcasts moving forward but declined to explain why. In LIV’s most recent ratings report in late March, the league showed audience numbers slumping by 24 percent week-over-week, from 537,000 average viewers in its season-opening broadcast in Mexico to 409,000 in its second event in Tucson, Ariz. …

The decision marks a significant departure from the strategy outlined just months ago by the league’s chief media officer, Will Staeger. Days after LIV signed its agreement with the CW in January, Staeger told GOLF.com the league would “certainly” provide publicly available viewership information, adding public data was “critical to all of our plans.

I highlighted that last part because it's key to all of this. 

LIV Golf doesn't have to turn a profit to be successful. As long as the world is using internal combustion engines that burn the vast liquefied remains of dead plants and dinosaurs that the tour's sponsors are sitting on top of, money will not be an issue. The whole point of LIV's existence has never been profit motive, it's been public relations. It's been a way for people in the Saudi government to say, "We're not so different, you and I! We love Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau and Lefty Mickelson just like you!" 

But it defeats the purpose of the whole exercise if nobody's watching. There's no reason to pay these guys hundreds or even tens of millions of dollars to promote your culture if they're doing it in a bubble. It's the old philosophical question, "If Brooks Koepka holes out a 9-iron and there are no eyeballs on the CW, does it make a sound?" 

Like I said in that blog I linked above, I'm not taking some tough moral stand against these golfers helping the Saudi's "sportswash" their corrupt, evil deeds. It's a messy world and every pro sports league around the globe is part of the same hypocrisy to some extent or another. And I'm not asking frigging golfers to be our saviors. 

But for the people who are genuinely angry at them over all of it, this is welcome news. No one has to denounce LIV, the guys who jumped ship to join it, or Greg Norman for being the commissioner; you just have to not care. Ignore it, and it will have to go away. Which the public is obviously doing in a very big way. 

The numbers bear that out. And the fact they won't release the numbers any more says it even louder and clearer. Because if they were good, LIV would never shut up about them. Their silence proves the Saudis have invested billions to produce the XFL of golf.

LIV can survive criticism. What is absolutely can't survive is indifference. This thing might not last the year.