The BBC has warned viewers to expect to lose more live sport as it tries to fill a £150 million licence fee shortfall.
£35 million will be cut from the BBC sports rights budget, and the BBC has admitted that they “anticipate this will lead to the loss of some existing rights and events.”
A further £50 million will be saved by cutting 1,000 jobs by 2017: middle management roles, back office and professional support services will all be affected.
As well as cuts to live sport on the BBC, the Corporation is also looking at phasing out the Red Button service, which comes into its own during major events but is set to be superseded by interactive TV options.
BBC Sport has already had to deal with the loss of Open golf, and from 2022 onwards it will lose control of the rights to broadcast the Olympic Games to Discovery who own Eurosport. The BBC will also share Six Nations rugby rights with ITV from 2016.
However, the loss of more free-to-air sport appears inevitable, with the BBC admitting that it will find it “tough” to meet the savings target, “particularly given the high levels of inflation in the market.”
Premier League highlights have been secured until 2019, and Wimbledon will continue to be broadcast live by the BBC until at least 2020.
In contrast, the BBC’s current Formula One deal is set to expire in 2018, their current darts coverage of the BDO World Championship is set to end this year, and FA Cup is only guaranteed until 2018.
The £150 million shortfall has come about because of a “loophole” in how the licence fee is collected. People do not currently need a TV licence if they are only watching TV on catch-up, through BBC iPlayer or other online catch-up services.
The government has committed to close this loophole, but the shortfall in funding will still need to be addressed on top of the £550 million of savings demanded by 2022.