Play got underway at 7.45 but BBC coverage doesn’t start until 13.45. What on earth is going on? TV fans will see less than half of the final day’s play at this year’s Open Championship.
After a great week in St Andrews soaking up the atmosphere while getting soaked both outside and in, I’ve come home today with a plan of watching the final round of the 144th Open Championship on the TV.
I turned on the box, flicked on to BBC1 and saw it was something called Council House Crackdown… right. OK, it must be on BBC2 I thought… nope – Victoria Derbyshire on there. Red button? Nothing. BBC3 or BBC4 – off air until 7.00pm. Pretty strange, but not to panic: They must be streaming it live online. I turned on the computer and headed for the BBC website…. Live golf, live golf, where is it now? I couldn’t find it, couldn’t find it… I couldn’t find it because it’s not bloody well there!
BBC coverage, it says on the site, starts at 13.45 on BBC 1. 13.45? You’ve got to be kidding. Play started at 7.45. The BBC website has the temerity to begin the introduction of “How to follow The Open on the BBC” with the line: “The BBC has comprehensive coverage of the 2015 Open Championship at St Andrews….” I don’t call showing well less than half of the final day’s play comprehensive. I’d call it limited at best. It should read: “The BBC has reasonably ample coverage of the first three rounds at St Andrews, then we’ll show a bit of the final round too… but it’s on a Monday and, frankly, we’re all a bit tired.”
Even Radio 5 Live doesn’t get going until 13.00, so the only way of following what’s happening at St Andrews until then is by watching the leaderboard and the text updates. Branden Grace is four-under through five as I write… He’s up to six in total. That would be interesting to watch. Oh, but we can’t. The BBC has some questions to answer about this.
In two years time Sky will have control of the coverage and you can bet your backside that, if they were in charge this year, they would be showing the action from the first tee shot until the last putt had dropped.
I have been a fairly staunch defender of the BBC and was strongly in favour of them retaining The Open in order for golf to reach as wide an audience as possible. I’ve always enjoyed their more informal and less jargon-filled style of presenting and, of course, I like watching with no ad breaks.
Unfortunately, the BBC clearly doesn’t value the golf enough; neither to fight for the rights to show The Open nor to show the event in its entirety.
I was sad and concerned that it was a bad thing for golf when I heard the BBC had rejected The Open. This morning, I don’t feel that way. I’d put up with two advert breaks per hour and a few slightly dull sections featuring an analysis of Dustin Johnson’s wrist cup or such-like, if it meant I could actually watch The Open.
At the end of proceedings last night (before the BBC disappeared to the news, almost immediately after the last putt was struck) Hazel Irvine, irresponsibly, encouraged people to “pull a sicky” from work today so they could watch The Open unfold on a Monday for only the second time in its history. If anyone has followed that advice, I imagine their feeling a little miffed this morning, as they’ll have to wait another 3.5 hours before they see anybody hit a ball…. Might as well go back into the office I reckon.