Olympics Tarnish British Open HD Coverage

Sky’s marathon coverage of the London Olympics next month will rob golfing fans of the chance to see the British Open live in HD.

Although Sky will dedicate eight HD channels to the Olympics, it doesn’t have enough satellite capacity to do this unless it turns Sky Sport 3 into an SD channel for the duration of the games.

The British Open has been scheduled for Sky 3 on the weekend of July 19-22 because sister channels 1 and 2 will be overloaded with rugby union, rugby league and international cricket commitments.

While it can be argued Sky can’t please everyone with its HD coverage on one of the busiest sporting weekends of the year, the decision to air the British Open in SD is particularly galling for golfers given it’s the only one of the four majors that can be seen here live in primetime.

It also receives more coverage than any other open, with Sky devoting 10 hours a day to the tournament compared to 4-6 hours that’s typical for a US major.

Ironically, the length of the coverage meant it could be accommodated only on SS3 given SS1 is synonymous with rugby and SS2 with league.

While it would make more sense to turn ESPN into an SD channel during the Olympics, contractural obligations would make this impossible.

However, the good news is Sky is planning a comprehensive daily highlights British Open package that will air in HD.

And whatever the downside of Sky’s Olympics scheduling, at least most of its top sports coverage can be seen in HD whereas TV One continues to air Wimbledon in SD.

Meanwhile, the BBC has been told it could lose its rights to cover the British Open unless it improves its golf coverage.

“This year, the BBC will cover just six days of live men’s professional golf,” The Daily Telegraph reports.

“As recently as seven years ago it offered 24 days of live action. Peter Alliss, the legendary commentator who has been the BBC’s voice of golf for around 40 years, is one of a number within the sport who have been critical of the trend.

“Now [the chief executive of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club Peter] Dawson, one of the most powerful and influential figures in golf, has made it clear he is not happy either, and that the BBC’s association with the Open, which stretches back more than 50 years, could come to an end if the broadcaster does not tidy up its act.”

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