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Open viewing figures down 75 per cent

It has been revealed that the peak TV audience for the final round of The Open dropped 75 per cent on last year in the first year of broadcasting by Sky Sports.

The highest viewing figure for the epic closing round – one of the best in recent memory – was watched by 1.1 million. BBC’s two-hour highlights show on Sunday evening reached a higher peak – 1.5m – than Sky’s live coverage.

To put the figures into context, in 2014, when Rory McIlroy won the Open at Royal Liverpool, the BBC’s peak Sunday figure was 5.5m. With many in golf being angry at the decision of the R&A to award the viewing rights away from free to air television, these figures will add fuel to those concerned that the long-term prospects of golf could be damaged by not having the world’s oldest Open free for all to see.