US PGA Championship 'facing UK TV blackout'
There is still no television deal in place in the UK for golf’s 2018 US PGA Championship, just a month out from the event, and with subscription broadcaster Sky and public-service network the BBC reported to have opted out of the bidding for the rights.
The 100th edition of the major tournament is set to take place at the Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Missouri on 9 to 12 August.
However, there is a growing risk of a TV blackout in the UK after Sky, the long-time home of the tournament, and the BBC, which showed last year’s event, withdrew from contention, according to the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Sky had exclusive live rights to the US PGA from 1992 to 2016, but was said to have balked at the cost of renewing when its latest 10-year deal expired, and the BBC stepped in for the 2017 tournament won by USA’s Justin Thomas (pictured).
The pay-TV network was expected to return to the fray this year, especially given that it has live rights to the other three majors, including next week's British Open, plus USA’s PGA Tour and the European Tour, all showcased on the Sky Sports Golf channel.
However, it is reported that the broadcaster is unwilling to meet an asking price for the rights from the PGA of America that could be in excess of $10 million per year.
IMG, the international sports and entertainment company, is responsible for distributing the rights to the US PGA outside North America, in a deal running to 2021.
The BBC agreed an 11th-hour deal to show last year’s event, and drew more than 2 million TV viewers for its coverage, which was 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’.
However, the BBC offering did come in for criticism as it played second fiddle to athletics’ IAAF World Championships in London, and had commentators based in the UK rather than at the course at Quail Hollow in North Carolina.
Moreover, a multi-year commitment was always considered unlikely given an expected increase in the cost of the rights, and economies at the public-service broadcaster, which has cut back on its coverage of golf in recent years, now offering only highlights of the British Open, after ceding the live rights to Sky.
Other potential UK broadcasters of the US PGA include pay-TV operator BT Sport and pan-European network Eurosport whose parent company Discovery recently agreed a blockbuster 12-year deal to acquire the PGA Tour’s international rights.
However, the PGA of America could instead look to stream the event in the UK on a digital platform such as Amazon Prime, Facebook or Twitter, or even on its own website.
The organising body told the Telegraph that “it would widely distribute” the coverage, but did not provide further details.