Sky Sports extends European Tour partnership to 2018

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Sky Sports has won the rights to screen exclusive live coverage of three more Ryder Cups and a further six years of European Tour golf.

The new broadcast arrangement means Sky Sports subscribers can continue to enjoy weekly coverage of the world’s best golf tournaments featuring the sport’s best players, including Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, as well as Europe’s spellbinding contests against the United States until 2018.

From 2013, Sky Sports will cover of a minimum of 28 events on the European Tour per season, as well as all four World Golf Championship events every year, plus the Ryder Cup matches in 2014 (Gleneagles), 2016 (Minnesota) and 2018 (Paris).

Under the new deal, Sky will also take over exclusive live coverage of all four days of both the PGA Championship at Wentworth and the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, bringing an end to the BBC’s live coverage of both events.

The new broadcast deal will extend the partnership between Sky Sports and the European Tour into its 25th year, a relationship that has witnessed a huge expansion in the number of tournaments worldwide and a sharp increase in prize money. 

Thanks to the growing strength of European golf over the past 20 years, the biennial Ryder Cup contest between Europe and the United States has become one of the world’s biggest and most popular sporting events.

Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said: “Our viewers have seen the growth of the Tour, the rise of the Ryder Cup and European golfers on top of the world rankings. Now they can be promised even more.

“This new deal brings three more Ryder Cups, more exclusive tournaments and six more years of golf right through the calendar – all in HD, online and through mobile devices.

“We have a valuable partnership with the European Tour; they have the events our viewers want to see and we have enjoyed the European Tour’s continued growth.  We now look forward to taking this relationship well into its second decade.”

Sky Sports golf commentator Colin Montgomerie, the 2010 Ryder Cup-winning captain and eight-time European Tour Order of Merit winner, added: “Golf has continued to attract a wider audience, helped by the draw of the Ryder Cup, the growth of the Tour and ever-rising standards of play.

“It is gratifying to see so many of our players in the world’s top 10 and to watch Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy challenging each other as world number one.

“We are all now used to seeing the story develop through every week of the year on television, and it is great news that this coverage will continue for another six years.”

Sky Sports began showing live European Tour golf in 1993 when it screened less than 60 hours of coverage from five tournaments. 

In 2012, the broadcaster will screen more than 4,400 hours of golf programming from more than 200 tournaments including the 2012 Ryder Cup, European and PGA Tours, the Masters, US Open and US PGA Championship, the World Golf Championships, plus ladies and seniors events.

Notable broadcast innovations include red button interactive coverage (1999), high-defintion (2006) and 3D (2010), all pioneered during the broadcaster’s Ryder Cup coverage.

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Veteran BBC golf commentator Peter Alliss (Pic: BBC)

The new TV deal also marks the end of the BBC’s live European Tour coverage, leaving the sport’s long term future on free-to-air television in doubt.

The BBC’s golf portfolio has diminished significantly over the past decade, and the corporation will be left with just the Masters Tournament at Augusta, The Open Championship and the Women’s British Open as its only live golf output from next year.

Despite retaining exclusive rights to screen The Open until 2016the BBC has shared live coverage of both the PGA Championship and the Scottish Open with Sky since 2009, as well as the Masters since 2011.

From next year, the BBC show free-to-air highlights of both tournaments, as well as extended highlights of 2014, 2016 and 2018 Ryder Cups.

Despite the loss of live terrestrial coverage of the European Tour from next year, Barbara Slater, director of sport for the BBC, said: “Golf is an integral part of the BBC’s sports rights portfolio, and with this new deal we’re very pleased to have retained extended highlights and live radio rights to the Ryder Cup until 2018.

“This has proved to be an extremely popular format with viewers and listeners. We look forward to continuing our relationship with The European Tour and bringing a wide range of tournaments to our audience, including The Open Championship and the Masters.”

George O’Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, said: “We are delighted to announce this long term agreement with both Sky and BBC Television, which guarantees the Tour superb high quality visibility for the next six years.

“Sky’s dedication and ground breaking technology complements the performance of all our international members on the world stage, which currently sees three European Tour Members, all of whom are British, occupying the top three positions in the Official World Golf Ranking.

“The BBC’s support maintains its close association with the Tour and continues their exceptional coverage which has been taking place for over 40 years.”

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