Tiger Woods staged one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history — but also served up a television ratings dilemma.
Sky Sports’ groundbreaking Masters golf coverage peaked at below 800,000 viewers on Sunday afternoon and averaged at below 500,000 as revitalised Woods closed in on his first Major title for 11 years.
The BBC’s average viewing figures of the same live action were 1.6m but nearly doubled to 3m as the tournament reached its climax, suggesting that the audience still switch over to their veteran presenter Peter Alliss.
Host course Augusta National signed a deal for shared rights with the BBC and Sky in 2017, but there is a growing belief the next deal will go exclusively to Sky with the BBC losing live rights from next year and only get a highlights package.
However, the weekend’s TV figures reveal the dilemma facing golf bosses as, even though Sky’s coverage was lauded for its commentary and technology, if the BBC loses out it will mean no live coverage of the iconic Masters event on terrestrial TV for the first time in 57 years.
It is a similar issue for the Football Association.
The BBC have already landed a stake in a new four-year shared deal for FA Cup rights from 2021. The deadline for the remainder of the package is at the end of the month with BT Sport and ITV both keen.
The FA might favour ITV as terrestrial coverage will, as with the golf, draw in bigger audiences.
Obviously, the BBC’s crime drama Line of Duty screening later on Sunday smashed the Masters with viewing figures of 7.6m.
IT’S *CALM* HUDSON-ODOI
Callum Hudson-Odoi has been involved in a major contract stand-off with Chelsea as he currently only has one year left on his deal. But the landscape may be changing as relations appear to be thawing, with Hudson-Odoi making it plain his No1 priority is to play regularly and that if the Blues offer that then he could yet stay.
Chelsea are naturally desperate to keep the England prospect and are offering a huge new deal to stop Bayern Munich getting him.
The German club have been relentless in their charm offensive towards the player’s inner circle.
Blues boss Maurizio Sarri finally appears to be playing Hudson-Odoi on a more regular basis and there are positive noises emerging that, as long as he gets game time with his boyhood club, it’s all he ever wanted.
PROBLEMS VAR FROM OVER
VAR has once again caused major controversy — and it may not get any easier next season when it’s introduced in the Premier League.
UEFA head of referees Roberto Rosetti oversaw the introduction of video technology for FIFA at the World Cup, into the Champions League and also brought it in for Serie A, so there is consistency.
But the Premier League are effectively setting up their own version with PGMOL chief Mike Riley overseeing it in English football, so players are likely to get one interpretation in a domestic match at weekends and another in midweek European games.
* GARETH SOUTHGATE enjoys paying tribute to England’s history and there is a new “cap wall” at St George’s Park to do exactly that. All players who have won 50 of more caps for the men, women, disabled and futsal teams will have their names engraved on the wall.
* EXCELLENT football pundit Alex Scott has never been busier. The former Arsenal and England player switched agents earlier in the season to M&C Saatchi Merlin, who also represent her Sky colleague Jamie Redknapp among other TV clients.
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