Masters Tournament to remain free-to-air on the BBC

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BBC Sport has agreed a new deal to continue screening live coverage of the prestigious Masters Tournament, ensuring the opening golf major of the calendar year remains on free-to-air television. 

The new multi-year deal, the length of which is undisclosed, will continue to see the BBC broadcast highlights of the opening two rounds of the tournament, followed by live TV coverage of the decisive final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday.

This continues the arrangement that has been in place since 2011 when principal UK rights holders Sky Sports, who screen live action from all four days, first covered the tournament.

In addition to the main TV coverage, the BBC will also retain access to additional digital feeds over the weekend, including Amen Corner, bringing fans all the action from the Masters across PC, tablet, mobile and connected TV devices, as well as live radio commentary of all four days from Augusta National Golf Club on Radio 5 live.

Despite having lost the majority of its live golf output over the last decade, including The Open Championship to Sky in 2016, the BBC’s new Masters deal extends a relationship that will pass 50 years since its first broadcast from Augusta in 1967.

Commenting on retaining Masters TV rights, Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said: “We’re extremely proud of our partnership with the Masters Tournament.

“This new deal highlights our longstanding commitment to bringing world-class golf to the widest possible audience on free-to-air TV.

“In addition, our radio and digital offerings will bring audiences closer to the action than ever before.

“The Masters remains one of the standout events on the sporting calendar, bringing together the world’s best players in a truly unique setting.”

There had been speculation that the BBC, which has been under pressure to cut its sports rights budget in recent years, could give up live Masters coverage, having passed over the contract to broadcast The Open to Sky Sports one year early in 2016.

The Masters now provides the BBC’s only live golf coverage across the calendar year, with rights to all other majors and UK-based tournaments in the possession of Sky, but the corporation will screen free-to-air highlights in  2017 of the Wentworth PGA Championship, Scottish Open, The Open Championship and the Women’s British Open.

Reigning Masters champion Danny Willett will defend his green jacket at Augusta in the first major of the year, which is due to run from April 6-9, with live coverage across BBC TV and Sky Sports.

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