Sky Sports ready to agree new deal to cover US Masters

There had been some doubt cast as to whether the current deal would be renewed

A general view of the 10th hole at Augusta National before the 2017 US Masters tournament. Photo: Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A general view of the 10th hole at Augusta National before the 2017 US Masters tournament. Photo: Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

 

Sky Sports is on the verge of agreeing a new deal to cover the Masters, thereby allaying fears the subscription channel could lose a second major championship. In what marked an embarrassment for Sky after the launch of a dedicated golf station last year, it was subsequently unable to agree a package for the US PGA Championship which, in turn, was covered live in the UK by the BBC.

It emerged last summer that Sky’s Masters contract had ended in 2017 without immediate renewal. Augusta National’s senior figures subsequently tested the market by way of talks with BT Sport during the Open Championship.

But it has emerged Sky has all-but confirmed an extension with Augusta which will, as per typical Masters partnerships, not be on a multiyear basis. “We work on short-term contracts with all of our broadcast partners,” said an Augusta source.

An interesting caveat to that is Sky’s continuing pursuit of exclusive Masters rights in the UK, with the BBC currently covering the last two days of the event on a live basis. Whether the corporation can retain that Augusta alliance with Sky hovering remains to be seen. Augusta, as was the case with the R&A with regards the Open Championship, would face a public backlash if its event was removed from free-to-air television.

What happens next with the US PGA will also come under further attention. As things stand, Sky has made no serious bid to reclaim the fourth major of the year. It may well be that commercial attention was focused on the Masters, while industry sources have suggested Sky may place more value in the US PGA from 2019, when it moves to a slot in May. The BBC’s coverage of last year’s event was widely criticised, albeit it was secured at short notice and in direct scheduling competition to the World Athletics Championships. Guardian service

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