The Open golf championship will move from the BBC to Sky Sports next year, as the broadcaster agreed to pay £15 million a year for the rights. The BBC was forced to pull out of its contract a year early, following 60 years of the event being shown by the broadcaster. The Corporation had been paying £10 million a year for The Open, a sum that it seems it not financially viable going forward.
‘Now, more than ever, it is critical that the BBC targets its resources to ensure maximum choice and value for money for licence fee payers,’ said Barbara Slater, BBC Sport director in a blog post. ‘We have already made long term commitments to a wide range of major sporting events, including the Wimbledon Championships to 2020, the next two Football World Cups, Match of the Day to 2019, 6 Nations to 2021 and the next three Olympic Games.
‘We know that many fans are unhappy with the loss of rights and in an ideal world the BBC would still be the home of live coverage of The Open.’
Sky Sports will offer live coverage of all four days from Royal Troon including extended build-up throughout the week, and support programming available across its channels and digital outlets. Content will also be available to view online, on mobile and tablet devices.
Barney Francis, Sky Sports managing director, said: “We’re pleased to begin our commitment to The Open a year early and look forward to bringing unprecedented coverage of this wonderful Championship. We have exciting plans to take coverage of The Open to the next level across our TV, mobile and digital outlets.”
The BBC is to offer a two-hour highlights TV programme in a prime-time slot over four days, bringing key moments from The Open to free-to-air viewers. Live radio coverage will be unaffected by the new deal and, said Slater, there is ‘scope to provide something fresh and new on our mobile services’.
Sky has sought to continually develop its golf coverage, including showing all three days in full of The Ryder Cup, HD, 3D, interactive and multi-platform coverage, and in-depth analysis through the Shot Centre and Sky Cart.