BBC extends deal with World Snooker to 2019

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The BBC will continue to broadcast three of snooker’s biggest tournaments until the end of 2018/19 season.

Extending the current agreement by two years, the new deal will see the corporation continue as host TV broadcaster of the World Championship, the UK Championship and the Masters – three events known collectively as the Triple Crown – in a deal reportedly worth more than £6.5 million.

Recent cuts and high-profile losses to its sports rights portfolio, including Formula 1, Open Championship golf, darts and exclusivity of Six Nations rugby, had put snooker’s long association with the BBC in some doubt.

But with the corporation surrendering its F1 rights to Channel 4 as part of a drive to save £35 million and help plug a £150 million licence-fee deficit, snooker has been spared the axe.

Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport, says: “With another exciting World Championships drawing to a close, there is no better time to reinforce our commitment to one of our nation’s most treasured sports.

“This deal keeps the three biggest tournaments in the snooker calendar on the BBC until at least 2019.

“We know there will be millions of snooker fans across the country celebrating the fact that they can continue to watch world-class snooker on free-to-air television.”

The deal until 2019 will allow the BBC to properly mark the 50th anniversary of its first foray into the sport, which arrived in the form of the popular ‘Pot Black’ programme in 1969. 

It will also be able to mark 40 years of World Championship coverage from the iconic Crucible Theatre.

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn says: “Our agreement with the BBC is one of the cornerstones of our sport, and we are delighted to extend it for an extra two years.

“These three major tournaments are much loved by the public – they are part of the fabric of British sport.

“The BBC’s coverage of the World Championship last year alone was watched by over 15 million people, proving how popular our sport is.

“The BBC and their production company IMG do a tremendous job in their coverage of snooker, and this new deal is fantastic news for the many millions of people throughout the UK who love watching it.

“Our Triple Crown tournaments are three of the highpoints of the sporting calendar, so fans will be thrilled that they will remain on terrestrial television.”

Snooker has provided some of the most memorable sporting moments broadcast by the BBC over the past 40 years.

Many consider the sport’s heyday to be the 1980s, when a BBC Two record audience 18.5 million people stayed up to see Dennis Taylor beat Steve Davis in the 1985 World Championship final.

Snooker still attracts millions of viewers, with 3.3 million having watched Ronnie O’Sullivan win a record-equalling sixth Masters title back in January.

World Snooker’s renewal with the BBC comes shortly after the governing body confirmed a ground-breaking ten-year deal with Eurosport.

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