One of the most anticipated events of the golf calendar, The Masters at Augusta National, is a little over two months away. However, according to a report in The Telegraph, for UK viewers, their options to enjoy the opening Major of the year may be more limited than usual.
That's because, due to cost-cutting measures, the BBC is said to be thinking twice about renewing its deal to show highlights of the tournament. If the BBC does choose to turn its back on the Major, it will be the final act of an association that has become more tenuous in recent years.
Having once broadcast live coverage of all four days, the BBCs grip on the tournament has become increasingly precarious since 2011, when Sky Sports won the rights to broadcast each day of The Masters and the BBC settled for delivering a highlights package and live weekend coverage only.
Then, in 2020, after Sky Sports bagged exclusive live coverage in a multi-million pound deal, the BBC began showing highlights only. That marked the first year since 1955 that the BBC had not shown any live coverage of one of the four Majors. According to the report, the cost of the highlights package exceeded £1m per year, and it appears that is a sticking point for BBC director of sport Barbara Slater.
The report comes just over a month after the BBC attracted criticism for snubbing US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick in its Sports Personality of the Year award. Among the people to express surprise at that decision was BBC presenter Gary Lineker – a keen golf enthusiast who even anchored the BBC’s coverage of The Masters in 2009.
If the news is confirmed and the BBC ends its association with the prestigious tournament, having originally broadcast coverage of it in 1967, it is sure to come as a blow to golf fans and raise further questions over its commitment to the game.
According to The Telegraph, attempts to reach Augusta National for comment proved unsuccessful while a spokesperson for the BBC told the publication: "We do not comment on sports rights negotiations."
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Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories.
He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game.
Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course.
Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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