Sky Sports Or BBC: Who Covered The Open Better?

The controversial switch of Open broadcast rights from the BBC to Sky was a hot topic last year.

Sky Or BBC: Who Covered The Open Better?

The controversial switch of Open broadcast rights from the BBC to Sky Sports was a hot topic last year. We take a look at the arguments around Sky Sports or BBC: who covered the Open better?

Sky Sports Or BBC: Who Covered The Open Better?

2016 saw a huge change in the way we digest the Open Championship.

The rights to cover golf’s showcase event live switched from the BBC to Sky.

The move had been due for 2017 but once the R&A showed their intention of moving to a satellite provider, the BBC pulled out.

Related: Royal Birkdale Golf Club hole by hole guide

It was a controversial decision because the R&A have a responsibility to grow the game.

Sky Sport’s coverage might be better but a free-to-air alternative would reach more people.

Ultimately, many core and casual fans were unable to watch the biggest tournament of the year live for free.

Henrik Stenson

Henrik Stenson was the victor in one of the greatest Opens in history, but not everyone could watch it live

Peter Alliss and Ken Brown would have to make do with a two hour highlights slot on BBC 2 every evening.

So now that the dust has settled on last year's spectacular Open Championship, we ask the question - Sky or BBC: who covered it better?

Related: Sky or BBC: Who covered the Masters better?

We asked our man on the sofa – Bill Elliott – for his thoughts, plus we’ve taken selected quotes from a thread on the subject on the Golf Monthly forum.

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Sky Sports or BBC: Who covered the Open better? Bill Elliott’s View

Sky Sports always were going to throw as much whizz-bang technical innovation at their first Open Championship as they could find.

Much of this new stuff worked well enough, although setting one of their wirecams on fire for a bit of light relief was probably going too far.

The happy fact is that they brought a freshness and an enthusiasm to the coverage that contrasted with an increasingly reluctant BBC in recent years but most of all they brought an awful lot of golf via a dedicated channel that was broadcasting before I got up in the morning and often still going when I went to bed.

The camerawork was outstanding, some of the shots of Troon sensational and the commentary team, led by the ever-professional Ewan Murray and bolstered by guest commentator Nick Faldo, held it all together competently.

On the course, America's Rich Beem and GM Columnist Wayne Riley were always both informative and, when appropriate, amusing.

With follow-up discussion programmes after play had ended and much more interaction with the players during the day, Sky's formula and production values have set a new benchmark for Open coverage.

There were irritations – why, for example, wasn't Rory McIlroy asked about breaking his club and how on earth does Butch Harmon know so many “wonderful young men”? - but overall if you couldn't be there in person then Sky did a terrific job.

Sky Sports or BBC: Who covered the Open better? The Golf Monthly Forum’s perspective

“It's the BBC that has ruined it for the casual golf viewer, whether the viewing figures are up or down good luck to Sky.” Pauldj42

“I haven't heard one single person talk about The Open in the office - normally do a sweepstake but nothing this year - all the talk has been about Wimbledon and the Euro's - where is all the promotion? It's on Sky itself. How exactly are Sky creating a buzz and promoting the Open beyond adverts on Sky? Haven't seen anything in the club, no posters , nothing on billboards , nothing on radio - just had the sports update on Heart and they didn't even mention the Golf - how has interest been generated by Sky ?

"I know that reduction in sports participation is based on a number of things but IMO it would include the lack of broadcasting of sport on terrestrial television.” Liverpoolphil

          “Sky's coverage has been outstanding so far, I’m so glad the BBC nailed the colours to the mast and ditched Golf.” Val

          "I like the idea that kids with no interest in golf were all sitting down to watch The Open on BBC & then rushing off to buy a set of golf clubs, but in reality this wouldn't have happened                  very much at all. It's far more likely that kids get into golf because one of their parents or grandparents play the game.” Pin-seeker

         “Just sat down to watch it and 3mins action in-between adverts oh joy of joys.” Upsidedown

         “I saw the BBC highlights. So much emphasis on showing putts which is as dull as ditchwater. It looks as though it is produced and editored by people that just do not understand golf.                 Peter Allis in fine form though....” Snelly

         “I think BBC did this better, whatever you think of the commentators. Sky have their favourites & stick to them, we never see any other spectacular shots, eagles, holed bunker shots, etc               from elsewhere on the course. For example, great things were happening on the 8th all day today, I had it live from the Open website on the laptop, but hardly any of that was shown on               the Sky coverage. So for me, its not the picture or the commentating, but the production which needs an improvement.” Whydowedoit

Neil Tappin

In July 2023, Neil became just the 9th editor in Golf Monthly's 112-year history. Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he has also presented many Golf Monthly videos looking at all areas of the game from Tour player interviews to the rules of golf. 

Throughout his time with the brand he has also covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points. 

Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSR2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons: PING Blueprint S (4&5), PING Blueprint T (6-PW) Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X