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the open championship tv coverage

Should The Open be shown on free-to-air television?

With the R&A extending its deal to show The Open on Sky Sports through 2028, NCG’s Steve Carroll and Matt Chivers debate if golf’s oldest major should be free for everyone…

 

Sky Sports has secured The Open Championship for another five years.

R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers wrote in a statement: “Our partnership with Sky Sports has enabled us to deliver outstanding live coverage of our championships to fans, as well as providing important revenues which support our broader activities to develop golf around the world and sustain the sport for current and future generations.”

Golf fans have been required to watch the sport’s oldest major on the subscription-based behemoth since 2016, with the BBC completely dropping live golf from its agenda.

As much as Slumbers celebrates this partnership from the R&A’s perspective, the announcement strikes sadness into the hearts of some golf fans who believe The Open should be free to air.

What side of the debate do you take? Should The Open follow the example of other sports institutions and offer itself to everyone, or does the quality of the event warrant a payment plan?

NCG’s Steve Carroll and Matt Chivers offer their two pence:

The Open Championship TV coverage: Should it be free?

Can you really ‘grow the game’ if people aren’t watching it?

If you’re reading this expecting me to put the boot into Sky Sports you’ve come to the wrong place, writes Steve Carroll.

I’m a subscriber. They do a tremendous job and their coverage of The Open, and the production innovations they have launched over the past few years, have changed the way the sport is shown on our screens.

But their audience is also limited – to those who want to, or can afford to, subscribe. The numbers of people who watch on Sky, compared with the numbers that tuned in when the BBC had the rights, are poles apart.

There is a buzz phrase in golf. You’ll be familiar with it if you’ve ever watched any LIV player talking but they’re not the only ones to trot it out.

It’s ‘grow the game’. Can you really ‘grow the game’ if people aren’t watching it? Would more youngsters be inspired to pick up a club if golf’s biggest championship was sitting on their screens instead of being hidden behind a paywall? It’s how my journey began.

There are some events that should just be free to watch. The Olympics. The World Cup. The Euros. Yes, for me, our sport’s oldest and most cherished tournament belongs in that category.

Now, whether free-to-air terrestrial TV would want it? Well, that’s another debate entirely…

the open championship tv coverage

Asking for The Open on terrestrial television is like asking for a 10-bedroom mansion for free

I used to love watching The Open, and indeed the Masters, on the BBC, writes Matt Chivers. And we find ourselves in a sad situation where this is no longer possible.

Nowadays, wanting to watch The Open for free is a fanciful and completely unrealistic request.

With Sky Sports, TNT Sports, and Amazon wrestling for Premier League rights which costs god knows how many millions, elite sport with household names and superstars doesn’t come cheap.

When Sky Sports show The Open, the coverage starts on Monday and it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s covered from every angle for seven days and fans don’t miss a beat.

From Thursday to Sunday, you are treated to about 48 hours of action, most of which are live coverage on the golf course.

Imagine golf’s biggest tournament, featuring stars who resonate with fans and who are loved around the world, being shown on terrestrial television.

It’s a great thought and one I wish still existed. But the question isn’t “Do I want The Open to be free to fair?” That’s like asking if you’d like a 10-bedroom mansion for free.

The question is “Should The Open be free to air?” Despite its charm and the memories it evokes for so many people, the answer has to be no.

NOW READ: Are The Open Championship tickets too expensive?

NOW READ: Are you happy with the quality of golf coverage on television?

What do you make of The Open TV coverage? Should it be free like the Olympics and the World Cup? Tell us on X/Twitter!

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spent time with some of the biggest names in the sport.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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