SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND | Martin Slumbers created a few raised eyebrows at the R&A’s annual pre-championship conference with the media when the subject turned to how the Open is delivered on TV. Amid reports of how this year’s US PGA Championship will be shown on the BBC rather than Sky, the CEO was asked if he felt confident that he had done the right thing in having switched the Open to Sky from the BBC ahead of last year’s Open at Royal Troon.
Slumbers, it turned out, had not had anything in the way of second thoughts. And the reason for that was because he felt that the BBC’s coverage was – wait for it – “tired and outdated.”
He said it was a testament to what the R&A had done that Sky had won a BAFTA for their coverage last year. And that though they had been up against the BBC’s coverage of the Olympics and Paralympics, and also the Six Nations.
“The world of media,” continued Slumbers, “has changed out of all recognition in the last 20 years. And I think the world of TV has changed and is going to change even more, without anyone exactly knowing where it’s going. But we’re very comfortable working with a partner that really understands the technology, that understands golf, and that understands how they can help us showcase this fantastic championship to the world.”
Slumbers also reminded his audience that the R&A’s primary aim is to reach out to a younger audience. Which, of course, is all very well as long as they continue to look after the older fry. When a couple of newspapers adopted that same “concentrate on a younger audience” policy 10 to 15 years ago, they soon discovered that they needed their more senior citizens back – and failed miserably in the process. The older generation had gone elsewhere.
Though the BBC will be enjoying what they have reportedly done in having captured the US PGA Championship from Sky, there is no question that they will be more than somewhat miffed at Slumbers’s harsh comments.
And wondering why they should have been voiced at a time when they, the BBC, are still delivering the Open highlights.