Sky retains Masters and seeks to regain US PGA
Sky, the dominant UK pay-television broadcaster, has renewed its deal for the US Masters, the first golf major of the year, and is said to be confident of regaining rights to the US PGA Championship, which surprisingly disappeared from the Sky Sports channels in 2017.
Sky has been the UK’s main rights-holder for the Masters since 2011 in a shared agreement that allows public-service broadcaster the BBC to show the final two rounds live. The last contract came to its conclusion following Sergio Garcia’s 2017 victory (pictured), while the BBC's deal has another year to run.
Sky said the new agreement is a "long-term partnership," understood to amount to three years.
The action will be shown on Sky Sports' dedicated 'golf' and 'main event' channels, which were rebranded last year.
Barney Francis, Sky Sports managing director, said: "This is fantastic news and our viewers can look forward to another special week at Augusta National. The Masters is a magical event played on a magnificent golf course. I believe our award-winning coverage and dedicated golf channel will give the best platform for a memorable tournament as part of a tremendous year of golf on Sky Sports."
The Masters is one of more than 100 golf tournaments set to be shown on Sky Sports in 2018, with the programming also including two of the three other majors, the US Open and The Open.
Sky is now in the process of trying to tie up the final major of the year, the US PGA, which this year takes place in Bellerive, St Louis.
Sky had been the home of the tournament since 1992, and held the rights in a 10-year deal which expired after the 2016 tournament.
However, the PGA of America, which organises the championship, announced in July that Sky would not be broadcasting the 2017 tournament, claiming that it was looking for “multi-platform distribution.”
In the end, the tournament was broadcast in the UK by the BBC, which drew more than 2 million viewers for its coverage, and complemented by a live stream on the Facebook page of Give Me Sport, the UK-based youth-focused platform, and by Twitter's coverage of “marquee groups.”
Despite the strong viewing figures, the PGA of America was said to be disappointed with some of the BBC's coverage, notably the fact that it played second fiddle to athletics' IAAF World Championships in London (putting a greater premium on the BBC's digital offering available via the red button service and online) and had commentators based in the UK rather than at the course at Quail Hollow in North Carolina.