10 reasons why moving The Open from BBC to Sky is wrong

Will moving The Open to Sky have a damaging effect on participation numbers?

The R&A has announced a five-year deal which will see live coverage of the Open Championship move from the BBC to Sky Sports.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against the golf coverage on Sky Sports. I’ve been a Sky Sports subscriber for many years.

But the removal of The Open from the BBC will deny millions of people the opportunity to see one of the greatest events on the sporting calendar.

The deal sees Sky take over as exclusive live rights holders from 2017, with two-hour highlights and live radio coverage being provided by the BBC.

Here’s why it’s a bad move for the sport.

1. I first became interested in golf through watching The Open and The Masters on the BBC. Less golf on the BBC means less people are likely to be inspired in this way. More coverage on terrestrial television would have a positive impact on participation numbers in my opinion, as it can help spark an interest in youngsters who are not from golfing families.  

2. Sky already has the three other majors which are in the US and shown late or into the early hours. The Open has the opportunity to really capture the British public at prime times. Proper golf nuts (like me) will stay up to watch golf from the US on Sky. The Open on the BBC has an opportunity to inspire the more casual golfer/golf fan.

3. Peter Alliss and Ken Brown. Golf coverage on the BBC is not as slick or high tech as Sky Sports but The Open just wouldn’t be The Open without the dulcet tones of Alliss and Brown guiding us through.

4. No adverts. There’s something relaxing about tuning into the golf on the BBC knowing there will be no interruptions. As Graeme McDowell said, wall-to-wall coverage from 7.30am to 7.30pm is special.

5. It shouldn’t be all about the money. I’m sure the BBC pay a handsome price for live coverage of The Open but Sky have obviously got deeper pockets. The R&A have a duty to protect and preserve the game of golf, their sole aim is not to be a profitable organisation. Surely getting more people watching the tournament is more important than how much money can be made from it?
Imagine the uproar if Wimbledon was moved from the BBC to Sky?" 6. What are your vivid golfing memories? Seve’s triumph in 1984, Van de Velde’s meltdown in 1999, Woods’ domination in 2005 or 2006? Unless you were there in person, you watched it live on the BBC. How sad would it be if Justin Rose, Lee Westwood or Luke Donald holed the winning putt at St Andrews and the next day at school or work it was missed by people stating, ‘I haven’t got Sky’.

7. The licence fee payer would have huge grounds for complaint if something they had access to and enjoyed over the last 20 years or so was suddenly taken away. The licence fee won’t be reduced but what you are getting for your money will be.

8. Golf is already seen by many as an elitist sport. You have to part with a fair bit of cash to play whether as a member or as a visitor. Putting The Open on Sky will re-affirm the stereotype that golf is not a sport of the people and that it’s simply a sport for people who have money. 

9. Imagine the uproar if Wimbledon was moved from the BBC to Sky? Wimbledon is a quintessential part of the British summer and so is The Open. Viewers will lose affinity with the tournament and the sport if it’s not available on terrestrial television.

10. The players views should be taken into consideration. Many of the world’s best were inspired by watching golf on the BBC. Lee Westwood labeled the decision an “absolute disgrace”, Graeme McDowell thinks people will be robbed of the BBC’s “special” coverage and world number one Rory McIlroy believes some sort of compromise could have been reached.


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