On the topic of golf television, David Hills says there is good news and there is bad news.
The bad news? Golf television is dying.
And the good news? He’s here to save it.
The legendary sports television producer (and longtime EP of Fox Sports) has invested a considerable amount of energy into golf television in the months since taking a job as a broadcast consultant for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf. He, alongside an experienced team of producers and television professionals, has been responsible for taking the nascent sports league’s broadcast off the ground floor. And after many hours of careful consideration, it brings him no joy to report that golf television is headed for catastrophe.
“How long do we have? Here’s the horrendous truth about golf,” Hill told “The Ourand and Marchand Sports Media Podcast” earlier this week. “The last figures I saw about golf, 50 percent of the television audience was 65+, which means they’re dead in 25 years. Seventy-eight percent was 50+. So what does that tell you? The audience is dying.”
Hill’s employer, LIV Golf, has expended considerable resources catering its product to younger viewers. This, he said, is no accident.
“I haven’t been to either of the two tournaments, but apparently, according to the guys who were there, is that the people who were turning up were like 35 and under,” Hill said. “So it’s fresh, it’s new and it’s different. There you go. It’s simple as that.”
But even if the early returns have been positive, Hill is in the business of getting people to watch golf tournaments, not necessarily attend them. To that end, LIV has been active in courting a series of high-profile on-air talents to add to its existing crew. To date, David Feherty constitutes the upstart league’s biggest addition, but rumors continue to swirl around others, like Gary McCord.
“Our very first meeting when we started discussing the philosophy of the telecast was immediately after I’d just come back from John Madden’s funeral,” Hill said. “What that reinforced was the importance of great announcers. The announcer is the key. Because sports are all about human beings to human beings, and the announcer does that. There are a few great announcers, there’s a lot of good ones, and there’s a number of bad ones.”
In fact, LIV’s biggest broadcast target could be a man with no background in the world of professional golf: Charles Barkley. Barkley’s name has been tied to LIV ever since he appeared at an impromptu dinner with Norman. He has said he’s waiting on the league to present him with an offer, but he’d be willing to jump — so long as the price is right.
“I have no idea what Charles and Greg talked about,” Hill said. “But you must admit that Charles must bring something to the commentary. I think Charles might bring a little bit more energy. Who knows?”
For David Hill and LIV, that’s the key: adding something, anything, to turn the tide of the sport (and it sure wouldn’t hurt if a TV contract came with it).
“What we’re doing with LIV Golf, we have Arlo White, we’re thrilled to get David Feherty, because David actually injects fun into the commentary. And we’re looking at some other guys to add to it,” Hill said. “It’s the commentary that does it. They are the most important part of any producer’s weapon.”