The controversial switch of broadcast rights from the BBC to Sky has been a hot topic during Open week. We take a look at the arguments around Sky or BBC: who covered the Open better?

This year saw a huge change in the way we digest the Open Championship. The rights to cover golf’s showcase event live switched from the BBC to Sky. The move had been due for 2017 but once the R&A showed their intention of moving to a satellite provider, the BBC pulled out.

It was a controversial decision because the R&A have a responsibility to grow the game. Sky’s coverage might be better but a free-to-air alternative would reach more people. Ultimately, many core and casual fans would be unable to watch the biggest tournament of the year live for free. Peter Alliss and Ken Brown would have to make do with a two hour highlights slot on BBC 2 every evening. So now that the dust is beginning to settle on a spectacular 2016 Open Championship, Sky or BBC: who covered it better? We asked our man on the sofa – Bill Elliott – for his thoughts, plus we’ve taken selected quotes from a thread on the subject on the Golf Monthly forum.

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Sky or BBC: Who covered the Open better? Bill Elliott’s View

SKY TV always were going to throw as much whizz-bang technical innovation at their first Open Championship as they could find. Much of this new stuff worked well enough, although setting one of their wirecams on fire for a bit of light relief was probably going too far.

The happy fact is that they brought a freshness and an enthusiasm to the coverage that contrasted with an increasingly reluctant BBC in recent years but most of all they brought an awful lot of golf via a dedicated channel that was broadcasting before I got up in the morning and often still going when I went to bed.

POLL: Who is the best SKY golf commentator?

The camerawork was outstanding, some of the shots of Troon sensational and the commentary team, led by the ever-professional Ewan Murray and bolstered by guest commentator Nick Faldo, held it all together competently. On the course, America’s Rich Beem and our own Wayne Riley were always both informative and, when appropriate, amusing.

With follow-up discussion programmes after play had ended and much more interaction with the players during the day, Sky’s formula and production values have set a new benchmark for Open coverage. There were irritations – why, for example, wasn’t Rory McIlroy asked about breaking his club and how on earth does Butch Harmon know so many “wonderful young men”? – but overall if you couldn’t be there in person then Sky did a terrific job.

Sky or BBC: Who covered the Open better? The Golf Monthly Forum’s perspective

“It’s the BBC that has ruined it for the casual golf viewer, whether the viewing figures are up or down good luck to Sky.” Pauldj42

“I haven’t heard one single person talk about The Open in the office – normally do a sweepstake but nothing this year – all the talk has been about Wimbledon and the Euro’s – where is all the promotion? It’s on Sky itself. How exactly are Sky creating a buzz and promoting the Open beyond adverts on Sky? Haven’t seen anything in the club, no posters , nothing on billboards , nothing on radio – just had the sports update on Heart and they didn’t even mention the Golf – how has interest been generated by Sky ?

Read the conversation in full

 

I know that reduction in sports participation is based on a number of things but IMO it would include the lack of broadcasting of sport on terrestrial television.” Liverpoolphil

“Sky’s coverage has been outstanding so far, I’m so glad the BBC nailed the colours to the mast and ditched Golf.” Val

“I like the idea that kids with no interest in golf were all sitting down to watch The Open on BBC & then rushing off to buy a set of golf clubs, but in reality this wouldn’t have happened very much at all. It’s far more likely that kids get into golf because one of their parents or grandparents play the game.” Pin-seeker

“Just sat down to watch it and 3mins action in-between adverts oh joy of joys.” Upsidedown

“I saw the BBC highlights. So much emphasis on showing putts which is as dull as ditchwater. It looks as though it is produced and editored by people that just do not understand golf. Peter Allis in fine form though….” Snelly

“I think BBC did this better, whatever you think of the commentators. Sky have their favourites & stick to them, we never see any other spectacular shots, eagles, holed bunker shots, etc from elsewhere on the course. For example, great things were happening on the 8th all day today, I had it live from the Open website on the laptop, but hardly any of that was shown on the Sky coverage. So for me, its not the picture or the commentating, but the production which needs an improvement.” Whydowedoit