Turner Sports, which will carry about 28 hours of the British Open on TNT over four days next year, has pulled out of the bidding to renew its deal with the event, which clears the way for ESPN to take the rights.
Reports from the Sports Business Daily is that ESPN will pay about $25 millon a year for up to seven years and put all four rounds of the event on its cable channel — ending ABC’s 50-year association with the tournament. It also makes the British Open the first major golf event to go cable only.
“We are disciplined in our approach to negotiating programming rights,” said Turner Sports chief David Levy. “While we were unable to reach terms on future rights that made economic sense for our company, we respect and value the R&A and our partnership of the past six years, and look forward in 2009 to TNT’s final year of covering The Open.”
TNT has covered the British Open’s Thursday-Friday rounds since ’03.