LIV Golf has had no issues attracting some of the sport’s top talent but snaring TV audiences will be a tougher task, as viewership for its inaugural broadcasts on the CW Network trailed far behind their rivals on the PGA Tour.
An average of 286,000 and 291,000 viewers tuned in Saturday and Sunday, respectively, to watch six-times major winner Phil Mickelson and former number one Dustin Johnson lead an all-star cast at LIV’s season opener in Mayakoba, Mexico, according to Nielsen.
With fewer marquee names to boast in its field, the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic brought in 1.61 million viewers Saturday and 2.38 million on Sunday, by comparison, on NBC.
LIV Golf did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
LIV Golf is the first sport to broadcast on the CW Network, after the two parties agreed a multi-year deal in January. Perry Sook, the chairman and CEO of CW Network parent company Nexstar, said on Tuesday’s earnings call that the three-day tournament was viewed by more than 1.4 million across the network and its digital platform.
“We’re very pleased with our first weekend of LIV Golf,” said Sook. “It’s selling very well and I think we’ll continue to grow as we get more into the season and more involved.”
Bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, LIV Golf attracted some of the sport’s biggest names with the promise of supersize paydays and a truncated schedule. The PGA Tour, meanwhile, has suspended members who joined the breakaway circuit.
The 14-event season kicked off amid an ongoing rift between the two sides, as another two competitors, Chilean Mito Pereira, who finished third in last year’s PGA Championship, and Colombian Sebastian Munoz joined LIV earlier this month.
Charles Howell pocketed a $4 million individual prize at the LIV event, while Chris Kirk took home $1.512 million at the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.