ITV Sport has extended its deal with Matchroom Sport to screen live coverage of the second edition of snooker’s Champion of Champions event.
The tournament will return to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry from November 4-9 and as in 2013, ITV4 will broadcast live free-to-air coverage of every session throughout the week.
Four-times world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will be among the names invited to compete in this year’s event, having won the inaugural tournament in Coventry last year.
The Champion of Champions boast a prize fund of £270,000 with £100,000 going to the winner, and the 16 competing players will be reigning champions on the World Snooker tour.
As well as defending champion O’Sullivan, players who have already earned an invite for this year’s tournament include UK Championship winner and world number one Neil Robertson, Ding Junhui, whose five ranking titles in the 2013-14 season included success at the German Masters and China Open, and Championship League victor Judd Trump.
ITV Sport screened live coverage of the inaugural staging of the Champion of Champions in 2013, its first UK-based snooker tournament for more than a decade, with the exception of its brief foray into Power Snooker in 2010/11.
Ranking event snooker returned to ITV screens for the first time in two decades in March 2013 when ITV4 covered the Haikou World Open in China, prompting its involvement with the Champion of Champions event later in the year.
Matchroom Sport chairman Barry Hearn said: “The first year of the Champion of Champions was an unqualified success, and we are thrilled to be bringing the tournament back to ITV4 and the people of Coventry this year.
“ITV produced a fantastic show in 2013, and I am very pleased they will once again bring this top new tournament to free-to-air television in November.”
According to the Inside Snooker website, discussions are also ongoing with ITV for it to screen a second exclusive event next season, as an addition to the Champion of Champions.
For more information about the event, including tickets and scheduling, visit the official Champion of Champions website.
UPDATE: World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has confirmed that ITV Sport has signed a five-year deal to screen two major tournaments per year.
Alongside its coverage of the Champion of Champions event in November, a new tournament called the World Grand Prix, with a prize fund of £300,000, will also be broadcast by ITV4 in March.
Speaking at a press conference at the Crucible Theatre during the World Championship, Hearn said: “I’m delighted to announce a new five-year deal with ITV4 for both the continuation of the Champion of Champions, which was previously only a one-year deal but had sensational figures, and they’ve also come in for another tournament which will be called the World Grand Prix.
“It’s a name from the past but a different type of tournament. This will take place from March 16-22 – every ball will be televised live by ITV.
“It will be the top 32 players on a one-year ranking system from the beginning of this year’s World Championship. It will be a £100,000 first prize, a £300,000-plus tournament and a valuable addition to our free-to-air coverage in the UK.”
Hearn also revealed that Sky Sports have signed up to screen ‘snooker week’ which comprises of the Seniors World Championship and the World Snooker Shoot-Out from Blackpool in March.
Snooker will continue to enjoy a strong television presence in the UK for the next few years thanks to existing long term deals with the BBC and Eurosport, in addition to the new ITV and Sky agreements.
Hearn added: “Without being complacent, with ITV coming in for five years, Sky happy with their snooker week, the Eurosport figures running at times 50 per cent higher than previous years, we are in a very strong position.
“This tournament [World Championship], as far as the BBC is concerned, has also performed admirably well.
“So far over 19 million viewers have tuned in, our average audience is five per cent up year-on-year, and our total audience is over two million viewers more than this time last year.
“I appreciate Ronnie O’Sullivan is a huge ratings driver, but this goes beyond just one player, which pleases me even more.
“Eurosport are attracting record audiences throughout this event – reaching 120 million viewers throughout Europe and, despite the absence of Chinese players, we’re still hearing of some record figures coming out of there as well. Good news for all of us.”