November 18, 2015

BBC Snooker: The Beginning of the End?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:26 am
Ozzy: Should be in charge.

Ozzy: Should be in charge.

With news today in the Telegraph about the various cuts that the BBC in the UK are being forced to make and news that the Red Button option is about to be phased out, the inevitable question of where these cuts will be made is being asked, with snooker very much in the rumour mill firing line.

As I tweeted these articles and was retweeted by a comedian called Mark who I profess to never having heard of but who has a hundred zillion followers so I guess he’s a big deal and then retweeted again by Mrs SB’s celebrity dreamboat and snooker fan Richard Osman, I figured it was time to break my recent self-imposed blog silence, as this is clearly an issue which arouses great passion amongst the anorak and thermos flask brigade, who I could almost feel shaking their train timetables in rage and disgust at these latest developments.

The first thing to say is that the coverage on the BBC, albeit probably without the Red Button, which let’s face it has not really served snooker well in recent years anyway, is safe for the next two years and the 2016 and 2017 World Championship coverage will not be affected. Beyond that, the future is still unclear.

Barry Hearn tends to think long term when it comes to TV contracts and it isn’t that long ago that he negotiated the extension that we are currently enjoying with the BBC. This leads me to believe that today’s news will probably prompt him to explore the options he has open to him.  After all, he has always maintained that the future of the World Championship at The Crucible, it’s spiritual home and 17 day residence of the Snooker Gods, rests on two things, those being the support of Sheffield Council and the BBC.

Without the BBC, what will become of snooker on TV? ITV would seem the obvious choice with whom to dangle the World Championship carrot given their recent renewed interest in the baize. But as excellent a job that they do covering novelty events like the Champion of Champions and that god-awful Shootout rubbish, it is a long way from getting involved at Sheffield, York and Ally Pally, both in terms of scope and budget.

Eurosport of course carry the baton of snooker all over Europe and are mostly responsible for it’s increased popularity further afield, so a move to Europe, most likely Germany, for snooker’s most precious possession would surely be up for debate if the BBC decide to pull the plug.

Sky seem to show no interest in snooker these days and for me it would be a dark day indeed if they were to grab the spoils. It’s bad enough they’ve nicked the Open Golf with their soiled used notes, but my guess is they see snooker as small-fry in the great scheme of things and I’d be very surprised if it ended up there.

I’d say the best option for the future of the sport in the UK is the status quo and I’d be sorry to see the BBC give up on something which, like Wimbledon and the Open, it has a long and proud association with.

Sure there are those who would like to see a lot change in terms of the coverage itself, personally I think at least one of the current commentators is now not so much past his sell-by date as languishing under the fruit stinking of ammonia.

I greatly dislike the way that the features often assume that their average viewer has just hatched, although they do have to look at the nerds who hang around the venues every day so you can see why they tend to reduce the syllable count now and again. But all in all, we’d miss it, you might not like to admit it to yourself but sometimes like that mouldy old pair of toasty winter socks you cling to for dear life, you just don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

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