• Sky Sports duly take over a year earlier than planned
• All four days of all four majors will now be live on Sky Sports
SKY SPORTS | BBC | THE OPEN
Sky Sports will take on coverage of the Open Championship a year earlier than planned after the BBC requested an early release from its contract.
In February this year, a deal was agreed for Sky Sports to air the Open on an initial five-year deal starting at Royal Birkdale in 2017. But due to ‘challenging financial savings targets’, the BBC has negotiated a deal with the R&A to end its full broadcasting now meaning, as of next year, Sky Sports will show extensive coverage of all four days of the year’s four majors.
In a statement released by the BBC, who will still host a two-hour highlights package at a prime time slot each night, director Barbara Slater said: “The BBC is faced with some challenging financial savings targets. Sport on the BBC is not immune to those pressures and they are compounded by the highly inflationary nature of the rights market.
"We have already made long term commitments to a wide range of major sporting events" - Barbara Slater
“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. We have already made long term commitments to a wide range of major sporting events, including Wimbledon to 2020, the next two Football World Cups, Match of the Day to 2019, 6 Nations to 2021 and the next three Olympic Games.
“So following the announcement that Sky had been awarded the live TV rights to the Open and in light of financial developments since, the choice to amend the current contract from next year was a pragmatic one. 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.”
The BBC was widely criticised for its final day coverage of this year’s Open at St Andrews, which spilled into a Monday finish and didn’t begin until 1.45pm – six hours after the start of play – with shows such as Council House Crackdown, Homes Under The Hammer and Bargain Hunt on beforehand.
And the talk was then that the BBC was seeking to end its Open Championship coverage early and, now that it has come to fruition, the R&A approached Sky Sports to assess their willingness to broadcast the Open a year early.
"We're grateful that they have stepped in a year early" - Martin Slumbers
“We are looking forward to world-class coverage of the Open from our partners at Sky Sports and are grateful that they have stepped in a year early,” said Martin Slumbers, the newly-appointed chief executive of the R&A.
“It is sad to see the BBC’s live coverage of the Open end and I know some fans will be disappointed. The relationship between the R&A and the BBC spans more than 60 years and we understand the challenging circumstances that the BBC is currently presented with. I know the BBC will produce compelling highlights, which will be enjoyed by a large prime-time audience.”
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 giving viewers the freedom to watch however they choose.
Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, added: “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.”
Those wishing to watch without subscription to Sky can do so via NOW TV, the UK’s leading streaming service which offers access to all seven Sky Sports channels for £6.99 for one day or £10.99 for a week pass.
Sky Sports gets 2016 Open :: Your thoughts
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