Mickey Walker on The Open's move to Sky
A few months ago it was announced that from 2017, as well as Sky Sports having won the contract to show the Open Championship, they also had the contract to show the Ricoh Women’s British Open and there were some murmurings of discontent amongst golfers across the UK.
When television started to arrive in homes across the UK back in the 1960s, the cost of the TV licence enabled viewers to watch the terrestrial channels and the variety of programmes that the BBC and ITV showed. There was something for everyone and, with television at that time being a novelty, very few complaints or requests for more sport, more dramas, more comedy or whatever one wanted to watch.
The situation these days with satellite TV and literally hundreds of channels dedicated to whatever topic we wish to watch available at the touch of a button means that the concept of ‘one channel fits all’ is virtually obsolete. I am not having a go at the BBC or anyone else, it’s just that nowadays the general public can choose what they want to watch when they want to watch it.
Whatever area you look at today compared to 50 or so years ago, we are now more discerning, want specific things that fulfil our needs and wants.
Television is no different. As a self- confessed sports nut, sport is what I want to watch most of. Of course I am interested in other things such as the news, good drama and occasional documentaries, but most of my viewing time is spent watching sport, and not just any sport, golf, especially the Majors, football and of course a general smattering of all sports played at the highest level. In the past the BBC tried to be all things to all people, and in the early days of TV when there weren’t any other options, by and large they succeeded.
With Sky having their own dedicated ‘golf channel’ and in any given week showing up to four tournaments live from around the world, then as a golf fan, a subscription to Sky Sports for me is a must. The quantity of how much golf Sky show, the time, money, expertise and technology that they invest in means that their coverage is second to none and their production recognised by Sky’s contemporaries and competitors as arguably the best in the sport.
Having a dedicated golf channel means that in the event that the tournament over-runs the viewer isn’t going to miss the most crucial part of the tournament, as Sky have the capacity to stay on air until a result is reached, even if that means airing the conclusion the next day.
I suggest that if you can’t get to Germany, you cross off the three days of September 18-20 to be a couch potato so that you don’t miss any of the action One of the other things that I really appreciate about Sky’s coverage, is how comprehensive it is. When Sky show the Solheim Cup from Germany in September this year, viewers will be able to watch all the action from before the first ball is struck until after the final putt has been holed. In fact, just as I and thousands of golf fans across the UK do for the Ryder Cup, I suggest that if you can’t get to Germany, you cross off the three days of September 18-20 to be a couch potato so that you don’t miss any of the action.
The acquisition of the Ricoh British Women’s Open means that from 2017 Sky will show all five of the women’s Majors as well as the four men’s.
As someone who works on women’s golf at Sky you might be thinking “well of course Mickey will be saying all those positive things since she has a vested interest.”
I do have a vested interest in women’s golf being shown to the golfing public. I have spent three-quarters of my life involved in golf, and I am excited and proud to see the levels that the best female golfers in the world are now achieving. I get a huge buzz every time women’s golf is shown on TV and it gains some more fans when viewers see just how good the level of play is these days.
Inevitably, the fans who enjoyed watching the British Women’s Open on the BBC will feel a sense of loss, disappointment and maybe anger.
I know that it’s a cliché, but times change and we now live in such a different world than when I started playing golf, but as a huge fan of golf, I love the fact that I can watch coverage of my favourite sport year-round.