BBC loses British Open rights to rival Sky Sports

BBC loses British Open rights to rival Sky Sports

Published Feb. 3, 2015 10:29 a.m. ET

LONDON (AP) The BBC is losing one of its most prized sports events, golf's British Open, to rival Sky.

Sky Sports secured exclusive rights to televise the Open in a five-year deal from 2017-2021, the Royal and Ancient said on Tuesday.

The oldest of golf's four majors will leave public broadcaster BBC after more than 60 years to join with the subscription channel controlled by Rupert Murdoch.

While terms were not announced, British media put the deal's worth at 15 million pounds ($22.5 million) a year, or 75 million pounds overall. That would be more than double the reported 7-million-pound annual contract with the BBC.


Sky's coverage will begin with the 146th Open at Royal Birkdale from July 16-23, 2017.

The BBC will show a two-hour highlights package in prime time.

Sky already has rights to golf's three other majors: The Masters, U.S. Open and U.S. PGA Championship.

The R&A said the new deal will allow the governing body ''to provide significantly increased financial support to golf participation initiatives in the U.K. and Ireland.''

''We believe this is the best result for the Open and for golf,'' R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said. ''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.''

The R&A said the number of commercial breaks on Sky for the British Open will be limited to four minutes per hour, with each ad running for 60 seconds.

The British Open was not among the so-called ''crown jewels'' of sports events that must be shown on free TV in the U.K. The list of protected events includes the Olympics, the World Cup, the FA Cup final, and the Wimbledon finals.