R&A awards Open Championship to Sky Sports
By Torleif Sorenson on 2/3/15
The R&A have awarded live coverage of the Open Championship to Sky Sports, beginning in 2017. The new contract also includes exclusive live coverage of the 2019 Walker Cup at Royal Liverpool and is worth a reported £15 each year — roughly double the R&A's current contract with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
In their announcement, the R&A explained that BBC Television, which has presented the event live for 60 years, will now show a two-hour daily highlights package instead. BBC Radio 5 Live will continue to broadcast live coverage of the Open, however.
In an open letter, the R&A's chief executive, Peter Dawson, acknowledged that the change is controversial. Among Mr. Dawson's comments are these:
I recognise that this new broadcast model represents a significant change and I understand that change, particularly where it involves the BBC, is controversial. We have observed, over several years, that the way the majority of people are choosing to consume sport is changing. Time pressures, multi-channel viewing providing sport and entertainment from all over the world, the second screen phenomenon, social media and digital consumption are all important factors in considering how we reach fans of all ages but particularly the younger generation. We have to cater for that changing environment and deliver the best viewing experience possible to golf fans.
Sky Sports already televises golf on their various channels 50 weeks out of the year. In their announcement on their own web site, Sky Sports will offer coverage not merely over television, but also mobile devices, tablets, and online. Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis also explains that their partnership with the R&A includes actually being on golf courses:
"We look forward to working with The R&A to entertain and engage new and existing golf fans through our multi-platform coverage and also at the grassroots level via Sky Academy."
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