Live free to air TV coverage of golf’s oldest major will come to an end from 2017.
Sky Sports will have exclusive live coverage of the Open Championship after it agreed a reported £75 million deal with governing body the R&A.
The BBC, which has covered the event for 61 years, will from 2017 show two hours of highlights a day across the tournament’s four days.
Terrestrial highlights are protected under the terms of the so-called “crown jewels” list, but it had been widely reported that Sky were interested in securing rights to live coverage of the 155-year-old Open.
World number one Rory McIlroy said the move was a “shame” according to the Scotsman, but added, “I guess it’s just the way it’s gone – money talks, you know. It would have been nice if they could have come to some sort of resolution but there it is.”
Sky already broadcasts live European and PGA Tour golf every week, has exclusive live TV coverage for the Ryder Cup and US Open, and had already outbid the BBC for coverage of the PGA Championship and Scottish Open.
Now the broadcaster has secured Britain’s most prestigious golf tournament as well.
Sky Sports’s managing director defended the growing control of pay TV over sports events last week, saying, “There are some who argue that sport being broadcast on pay TV leads to declining public interest. There is no better example to disprove this theory than the Ryder Cup, which has grown to become one of the world’s biggest sporting events and yet has not been covered live on free-to-air TV for more than two decades.”
News broke last week that the BBC’s Match of the Day had retained Premier League highlights at a reported cost of £204 million.
Today Director of BBC Sport Barbara Slater said, “We’re obviously disappointed that we were unable to retain live TV coverage of The Open Championship.
“However, we’re pleased to be continuing our 60-year partnership with the R&A and feel that a comprehensive two-hour highlights programme – a format which has already proven successful – in a prime-time slot over four days will allow us to continue to bring all the best action and key moments from The Open to a large free-to-air audience on TV, radio and online.”