Has golf just scored a double bogey in selling The Open to Sky?

keep the open on BBC golf blogThis week the golfing world finally discovered the fate of The Open. Would the BBC keep it on free to view for everyone in the UK, or would the R&A succumb and sell off their crown jewel to Sky? Sadly it was the latter. It would seem from the press reports that Sky offered around double the fee that the BBC had been paying. Sky are rumoured to have bid approximately £14 million a year for the right to sole live broadcast rights. The BBC will retain a 2 hour daily highlights programme.

In the run up to this decision, social media was already in full flow, discussing the merits of whether it should happen or not. Opinions were polarised, with some arguing that Sky present golf brilliantly and that coverage of The Open could only improve. Others argued that The Open is one of the iconic sporting events in the UK and it should be kept on free to view. Almost everyone, on both sides of the argument, put forward that Sky, or the BBC, would be better for the future of the game.

R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said: “We believe this is the best result for the Open and for golf. The way people consume live sport is changing significantly and this new agreement ensures fans have a range of options for enjoying the championship on television and through digital channels.”

Let’s not forget that at this moment in time, golf in the UK is experiencing the following:

  1. golf clubs are haemorrhaging members
  2. fewer rounds than ever are being played
  3. the number of people of who play at least once a week is decreasing
  4. equipment sales are falling

Now, I have read a lot of press coverage of this announcement, and I can’t find any direct reference to how this decision will encourage new participants into the sport.

I think Jeremy Dale, world renowned trick shot golfer, said it most eloquently.

“Yes, Sky do a great job but it not about that…..the PR value to the game that came from having the Open on BBC all day in the UK was (is) priceless.”

But, let’s park our emotions to one side, and look at some cold hard facts. The use of Google search results is an effective way to tell the popularity of an event, sport etc

This image shows the google search trend for the term ‘golf’ in the UK. The little peak coincides with the Masters and the second with The Open. You can see the downward trend over the last 10 years.

golf searches last 10 years


But if we look closer at the volume of search traffic from 2011, when Sky took over as the main live broadcaster for the Masters. The trends show that golf related searches around the time of the Masters is falling at a far faster rate than that for searches around the time of The Open. I think this says it all!

sky decreasing

Only time will tell whether the decision to sell out to Sky was a good one for the game, or not. Personally, I’m not convinced that the right decision was made. Are you?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Latest Blog Post

Subscribe to our mailing list

golf marketing email signupClick on the ball to subscribe to our email updates on the latest digital marketing news for your golf business.

Let’s play golf and network!

Follow The Digital Golfer