Ken Brown is fully understanding of The R&A's decision to award live Open Championship rights to Sky from 2017

BBC golf commentator and analyst Ken Brown is fully understanding of The R&A’s decision to award live Open Championship broadcasting right to Sky from 2017.

There was uproar from many quarters earlier this year when the R&A announced a new five-year deal with the pay-per-view broadcaster.

It later emerged, however, that the BBC didn’t bid more than £10m – £5m short of the Sky figure – instead choosing to invest £204m to secure Match of the Day football highlights.

And Brown, who has worked on BBC’s golf coverage for the best part of 20 years, has refused to condemn The R&A’s much-scrutinised decision.

“It’s disappointing for us at the BBC that we don’t have live Open rights from 2017 onwards, but if you’re running a business, you have to decide what’s best for you. It’s hard today to turn down money.

“I can’t speak for the BBC, but I can speak for myself, and if it was my business, I’d have to decide what the best way to go is. If someone is offering twice the amount of money, it’s hard to say no.

“It’s not as if the Open can stand alone. It has to keep pace with the other three majors.

“The US Open has just done a massive television deal and The Masters can make whatever money it wants to. There’s a group of four fantastic events and we have to make sure The Open doesn’t slip.”

Many feel The R&A’s decision to award live rights to Sky was short-sighted given the lack of golf on terrestrial television.

Others, like Golf Monthly editor Mike Harris, believe Sky deserves the rights due to its continual innovation and investment in golf broadcasting and support for the sport on every level.

The R&A has pledged to use the extra money to fund more golf development schemes and initiatives.

One Putt – The Ultimate Guide to Perfect Putting by Ken Brown, published by Hamlyn, £18.99

  • RuariJM

    I agree that Sky has done some great work with its golf coverage. Sorry to have to say so but it is far better than anything the BBC has ever done, Ken Brown’s entertaining analyses notwithstanding.

    I saw a column by Eddie Butler in which he opined that the choice came down to the 6 Nations or the Open, and the BBC decided to go with the 6 Nations. Fair enough – that’s their choice – but he then went on to talk about a restricted pot of money at the BBC and its commitment to sport, which raised a sarcastic snort in me, I have to say.

    because it’s not just about the Open. It’s about European Rugby Union; Rugby Premiership (starting there because that’s what Eddie was talking about – the importance of rugby…); live football; rugby league, which used to be a Saturday fixture on Grandstand (if you can remember Grandstand…); Motocross; motor racing; motor cycling; a lot of athletics; cricket (remember when the Tests were always on TV, ball by ball?); tennis (other than Wimbledon); and pretty much any sport you can think of.

    It appears to me that the BBC simply isn’t interested in outside broadcasting in general, other than political two-ways from Downing Street or College Green, and has no real commitment to sport at all. It is still in some ‘symbolic’ events but there is no indication from the top brass that their hearts are really in it – or even that they understand the appeal of sport.

    It isn’t just about The Open, it’s about the decline of the BBC. But that’s another story.

  • Frkgolf

    That kind of thinking is the reason we as the Public object to Sky, it’s all and only about money, is that really all you think this game is about. There are Millions of golfers being ripped off by the whole industry, ticket prices for the open are so restrictive the whole sport is reverting back to elitism, even Lee Westwood has voiced his opinion about the cost of the game and the decline in membership. The Last thing Golf needs is Sky & Trump ! 😉