It's the end of an era for the British Open.
The Royal & Ancient announced Monday that it has partnered with NBC Sports and the Golf Channel to air the British Open beginning in 2017, ending an ABC/ESPN collaboration that began in 1962.
According to the Sports Business Journal, NBC will pay an average of $50 million per year spanning more than 10 years in the deal. That is twice as much as the existing $25 million per year ESPN paid in a deal that began in 2010. NBC Sports' recent loss of the U.S. Open to Fox Sports played a role in the aggressive bid for the British Open. Sources told SBJ's John Ourand that NBC execs didn't want to be major-less, and the British Open was an outlet to get back in the major game.
“They have unparalleled experience in golf and have demonstrated a genuine desire to showcase and promote The Open and the R&A’s elite championships through their extensive range of channels and digital platforms,” R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said in a release. “The United States is home to millions of fans of The Open and we know that through NBC Sports Group they will enjoy world-class coverage of the championship.”
It will also be the first men's major to be televised on the Golf Channel in its 20-year history. The partnership extends to the Senior British Open, Amateur Championship and Women's British Open.