The R&A has signed a five-year deal with Sky Sports granting exclusive broadcast rights for the British Open beginning in 2017. The deal significantly alters a 59-year-relationship with the BBC.
Sky will show all four rounds live while the BBC will be reduced to a two-hour daily highlight package.
The deal is thought to be worth £10 million per year, which is £3 million more than what the BBC had paid. Sky Sports, a subscription-only channel, will now show all four majors as well as all European and PGA Tour events.
The BBC, which is available in the United Kingdom, will be left with just the final two rounds of the Masters and the Women’s British Open. However, the BBC will continue radio coverage of the British Open over its Radio 5 live station.
The British Open is the R&A’s main source of revenue, which is used to fund golf around the world. Criticism will come from those who feel the deal goes against the R&A’s mission to grow the game.
“We believe this is the best result for the Open and for golf,” said Peter Dawson, R&A chief executive. “The way people consume live sport is changing significantly and this new agreement ensures fans have a range of options for enjoying the championship on television, on radio and through digital channels.
“Sky Sports has an excellent track record in covering golf across its platforms and has become the home of live golf coverage over recent years. We are very much looking forward to working with them to develop and enhance the coverage of the Open.
“We have enjoyed a long and successful relationship with the BBC and, although the nature of that relationship is changing from 2017, we are delighted that the BBC will broadcast prime-time highlights and that the Championship will continue to benefit from extensive live coverage on Radio 5 live and online.”