The BBC has admitted finding £35 million savings from its TV sports rights budget will be “tough” and warned viewers to expect the further loss of coverage for some events.
Sports such as Formula One, athletics, snooker and even darts will be under the microscope as BBC executives work out how to make savings. Its flagship Match of the Day highlights programme is not under threat as a deal from 2016-19 has already been agreed for £204m with the Premier League.
Savings already made by ending its coverage of golf’s The Open and sharing Six Nations rugby coverage with ITV will help meet the £35m figure but other significant cuts will still have to be made.
A BBC statement said: “£35m will be saved from the BBC’s TV sports rights budget. Meeting this savings target will be tough, particularly given the high levels of inflation in the market.
“We therefore anticipate this will lead to the loss of some existing rights and events.
“We have already made some tough choices which have contributed to the savings, for instance around the Open golf. However, we have also recently secured a series of important rights - including Wimbledon, Premier League highlights, live coverage of Euro 2016 and 2020 football championships and Six Nations rugby shared with ITV.”
The BBC’s red button service is also facing cuts, which may have an effect for next year’s Rio Olympics, though the broadcaster may move towards viewers being able to choose to watch different events online rather than through TV.
The Olympics remains a key part of the BBC’s plans though from 2022 onwards the Discovery channel will control the European rights - it is expected to sub-licence the rights in the UK, and the BBC is sure to view those as a priority.
The BBC’s Formula One deal - which it shares with Sky - ends in 2018, the rights to its three major snooker competitions end in 2017 and the BDO World Darts Championship rights finish next year.