"Whether we like it or not, golf is a minority sport" - Peter Alliss
Published 01/10/2015 | 08:24
Peter Alliss, the BBC's long-standing golf commentator, said he was embarrassed and saddened that the corporation would not show live coverage of the Open Championship next year.
Organisers the R&A announced on Wednesday that the 2016 Open at Royal Troon would be televised live by Sky Sports after the BBC requested to be released from its contract a year early.
Sky had already been awarded exclusive rights to live television coverage in a five-year deal from 2017, with the BBC offering two-hour daily highlights and live coverage on radio and online.
Sky has now stepped in a year ahead of schedule and Alliss said in The Times: "I am embarrassed that an organisation the size of the BBC with its worldwide reputation is in this situation, but it is inevitable.
"Whether we like it or not, golf is a minority sport and covering the Open doesn't come cheap. I was once told its costs were exceeded only by the cost of a state funeral.
"I feel sadness that it has come to this. The R&A will end up with millions of pounds, we will have a daily package of highlights that will be very good and will be watched by between three and four million people. Sky will struggle to get one million viewers. They have wonderful technology, every gizmo under the sun, but what they don't have are viewers."