Key takeaways from the LIV Golf event at Trump’s golf course

Yahoo Finance’s Josh Schafer, who attended the golf event for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf league at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, NJ, shares some of his key takeaways from the day.

Video Transcript


DAVE BRIGGS: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? On a similar note, if it weren’t for the controversy surrounding Saudi-backed LIV Golf, would anyone even know it exists? This weekend’s much hyped tournament at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey was a flop. And not the good kind we often see from LIV player Phil Mickelson. Crowds were as thin as my iron game. Sparse at best, even for the final round on Sunday. Tickets could be had on the secondary market for a buck. $1.

Those who attended heard loud music intended to liven up the atmosphere, where all it really did was cover up the lack of applause. 40,000 to 50,000 people streamed the first two rounds on YouTube. And the audience peaked on Sunday, around 112,000 in the final few hours. The team concept, the most novel of all LIV creations, was really confusing and rather cheesy, given names like aces, majestics, and fireballs.

Ultimately, team loyalty takes years, if not decades, to build. And LIV has already committed $2 billion to this product, $725 million to the top five players who don’t even appear to care if they win or lose, quite frankly, because they’ve already been paid. Even for the bottomless pit that is the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, this is not a sustainable business model. Josh Schafer is here with what could change that equation, Josh. But I am very skeptical it will, clearly.

JOSH SCHAFER: So, Dave, I was there in Bedminster. I will say a lot of what you said was accurate when we talk about how many people were there. It was not an overly crowded sporting event by any means. It was not a crazy crowd.

But we did see a little bit of what they’re going for in terms of the music playing. There were those moments, those little moments that are sort of where LIV stands right now. And that was the pitch that I got from them. It’s a startup. This is only event 3. We’re not going to have a broadcasting deal yet. We’re not going to have all these things yet. But when that comes, that’s the business model.

And I think that’s the important thing to remember, too, when we think about sports. Yes, you want people there. You want the environment there, and it shows a sign of fandom. That’s not how this league is going to make money. They’re going to make money off the streaming deal. And they’re going to make money off brands being willing to sponsor and support them that way, right? And I think that’s an important thing to think about here when we think about how many people were there.

DAVE BRIGGS: Yeah, the lack of brands around the golf course is stunning for anyone who’s been to a PGA event. So you talk about a streaming deal. Is there any whisper of a streaming and/or television deal, which I’ll admit is certainly a game changer.

JOSH SCHAFER: It seems like it’s not going to be until next year. They’re trying to do that– basically, this year, the event I was at is almost like a pitch for reporters to see if it’s something that they want to cover, for sponsors to see if it’s something that they want to engage with , for streamers to see if it’s the kind of thing that they want to cover and broadcast.

And I think that’s where they’re at right now. It’s a pitch. It’s early. Obviously, it’s a little bit different than a growth stage company that has already spent probably $2 billion. So they’re going to have to start getting money back at some point, you’d think.

DAVE BRIGGS: Amazon or Apple, any chance? Because those are the only ones who have the money to really change the game. Any chance? It’s untouchable for now.

JOSH SCHAFER: All I know is Phil Mickelson says when it happens, Dave, it’s going to revolutionize the way we watch golf.

DAVE BRIGGS: All right.

JOSH SCHAFER: That’s the pitch.

DAVE BRIGGS: Good stuff, Josh Schafer.

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