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BBC Sport is the sports division of the BBC. It became a fully dedicated division of the BBC in 2000. It incorporates programmes such as Match of the Day, Grandstand (discontinued in early 2007), Test Match Special, Ski Sunday, Rugby Special and coverage of Formula One motor racing and the Wimbledon Tennis Championshipsmarker.

BBC Sport's website is also the UK's biggest and most popular sport website and is increasingly adding video and audio coverage to its scores and text news services.

Due to the public status of the BBC, advertising is forbidden and as a result, sports matches covered by BBC Sport are not allowed to be sponsored, although the present commercialisation of sport makes this almost impossible in practice. In the face of increased competition from its rival broadcasters the BBC has softened its stance and is now contractually obliged to refer to certain competitions by their sponsored name under the terms of broadcasting rights deals.

BBC Sport launched a trial of the High Definition television format of the 2006 Football World Cup in HDTV as part of a wider trial of that format by the BBC. With the official launch of BBC HD, live football matches and golf have led the channel's sports output, and the BBC is rumoured to be studying the possibility of airing Premier League highlights in HD. Roger Mosey, Director of BBC Sport, announced in January 2009 that the BBC's aim "is for all our sport production to be in HD by 2012 at the latest".

BBC Sport Interactive was launched in June 2008 on BBC Red Button, it is available on digital cable, satellite and terrestrial by pressing the red button and selecting page 300.

TV Sports rights


One of the BBC Sport's most prized pieces of sport is the Wimbledon Tennis Championshipsmarker. The BBC has televised Wimbledon since 1937 and today produces over 900 hours of footage for display in 159 different countries.. BBC One and BBC Two show coverage from 12 noon until 9pm each day. As well as this digital viewers have the option to view uninterrupted coverage of up to five alternative games on BBC Red Button.

Coverage is presented by Sue Barker, while the Wimbledonmarker highlights, titled Today at Wimbledon are fronted by John Inverdale. Commentators and analysts include Barry Davies, John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Jimmy Connors, John Lloyd, Martina Navratilova, Virginia Wade, Sam Smith, Tracy Austin, Greg Rusedski, Tim Henman, Andrew Castle and Chris Bradnam.

Furthermore, the BBC shows live coverage of both the French Openmarker and the Australian Openmarker, each with the majority of coverage on BBC Red Button and important games, including both finals shown on BBC One or BBC Two. It also provides coverage of all the British Davis Cup teams matches, Queen's Club Championships and International Women's Open at Eastbourne.

The BBC currently holds the broadcast rights for Wimbledon until 2014.


International football

The BBC hold joint rights to show the FIFA World Cup until 2014 with ITV. A near equal split of group stage and knockout stage games are shown, including a semi final, and the final which is shown on both networks. A similar agreement exists for the European Championship. All games other than the final group games, which clash, are shown on BBC One or BBC Two, plus BBC HD. During those clashing games the game not shown on BBC One is shown on BBC Red Button. There are also nightly highlights and extensive interactive options. The Africa Cup of Nations is shown on BBC Three and BBC Red Button.

Some Scotland away games are shown live. The BBC also broadcast highlights of all other Scotland matches. This coverage is usually shown on BBC One Scotland or BBC Two Scotland and simulcast on BBC Red Button for the rest of the UKmarker, though similarly it can appear on the nationwide networks. Similar highlights arrangements exist for some of the Wales and Northern Ireland games.

Domestic football

The BBC also show extensive highlights from the Barclays Premier League. Match of the Day shows highlights of each Saturday's games while the Sunday games are covered in Match of the Day 2. Football Focus airs each Saturday lunchtime to preview the weekend's games, followed later by up to the minute game reports in Final Score through the afternoon on BBC Red Button and later on BBC One. As the final whistles approach, coverage switches over to BBC One where Final Score continues in Englandmarker and Walesmarker, with Scottish viewers able to see Sportscene Results at this time for special focus on the Clydesdale Bank Premier League and the other divisions. SPL highlights are shown, also under the Sportscene umbrella on Monday evenings. In Northern Irelandmarker a similar service is available, entitled Final Score from Northern Ireland. In addition, BBC Sport also provides Scottish matches for the BBC Alba channel's strand, Spòrs. This includes delayed coverage of SPL matches and live Challenge Cup games.

Beginning in 2009, the BBC air ten Championship matches live annually, as well as both legs of a Carling Cup semi-final exclusively live and shared live coverage of the Final with Sky Sports. It also shows Football League and Carling Cup highlights shows.

Highlights and live coverage of the Scottish Cup and Co-operative Insurance Cup is also shown by BBC Sport Scotland, and on BBC Red Button throughout the rest of the country.


Match of the Day and many other live games and highlights shows are anchored by Gary Lineker, while Match of the Day 2 is presented by Adrian Chiles. Dan Walker took over as host of Football Focus for the 2009/10 season due to Manish Bhasin's move to The Football League Show, while Gabby Logan takes over hosting duties of Final Score, replacing Ray Stubbs who departed to ESPN for the 2009/10 season.

Other football hosts and reporters include Celina Hinchcliffe and Jake Humphrey (who now also presents Formula 1) and Mark Chapman.


The BBC's main football pundits are Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer (who took a break from his work with the BBC to take up the role of manager of Newcastle United in 2009), Lee Dixon, and Mark Lawrenson. Steve Claridge joined the team for the 2009/10 season as the BBC's new Football League expert.


The BBC's main commentators are Jonathan Pearce, Steve Wilson and Guy Mowbray and BBC Sport Scotland's main commentator is Paul Mitchell. Euro 2008 saw the retirement of the long-standing and popular commentator John Motson from live television football commentary, though he continues to work on Match of the Day and performs frequent live radio commentary for BBC Radio 5 Live.

Regional coverage

Scottish coverage is presented by Richard Gordon, Dougie Donnelly and Dougie Vipond. Jason Mohammad is the host of Wales on Saturday and other Welsh football.

Rugby union

The BBC holds exclusive rights to the Six Nations championship in the UK. It shows all matches in the tournament live on either BBC One or BBC Two. Coverage of these games is complemented by an interactive service on BBC Red Button. The BBC hold additional rights to the Autumn Internationals for the Irish, Scottish and Welsh sides, as well as highlights of the English team; coverage is again on BBC One or BBC Two.

The BBC held exclusive rights to show the EDF Energy Cup until the 2009/10 season when these rights were acquired by Sky Sports. The BBC holds joint right to show the Magners League, along with Setanta Sports and S4C which it shows on Friday evenings on BBC2W and occasionally in Northern Ireland and Scotland and across the rest of the UK on BBC Red Button. Highlights from the Magners League are shown in Scrum V on BBC2W and BBC Red Button alongside briefer highlights in Wales on Saturday on BBC One. BBC Sport Wales/Chwaraeon Cymru also produces the Welsh language S4C's coverage of the Magners League and EDF Energy Cup under the Y Clwb Rygbi brand. This is because the BBC is obliged to provide S4C with several hours of programming a week. BBC Two in Wales often shows Wales national rugby union team under-20 Six Nations games, which are also shown on BBC Red Button in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

BBC Sport's rugby union coverage is currently presented by John Inverdale, Gabby Logan, Jill Douglas. The main pundits used are Jeremy Guscott, Jonathan Davies, Andy Nicol, Keith Wood and Stuart Davies. The BBC's commentary team includes Eddie Butler, Nick Mullins, Andrew Cotter, Brian Moore, Philip Matthews and Jonathan Davies. Bill McLaren was the BBC's main commentator for many years before his retirement in 2002.

Rugby league

The BBC covers the Challenge Cup from the round in which the Super League clubs enter. The coverage is shown on BBC One and Two and will usually consist of two matches per round, one on a Saturday and the other on a Sunday. Highlights of the Super League are shown under the Super League Show title is shown overnight on a Sunday on BBC Two. Produced by BBC Yorkshire in Leedsmarker, the show airs at an earlier mid-morning time-slot for viewers in some of the BBC's northern regions, where Rugby League is most popular. The National League play-offs are also covered on the Super League Show. From 2009, the BBC will hold the rights to show one England international each year.

Rugby League coverage is presented by Clare Balding with the Super League Show fronted by Harry Gration. Ray French and Jonathan Davies are the BBC's commentary team while Robbie Paul and Brian Noble are amongst the pundits. Dave Woods is the chief commentator for the Super League Show.

Motor racing

The BBC covered Formula One for many decades until 1996, initially covering the odd race on the calendar, before introducing in 1976 a programme which followed the entire championship. Formula One was shown under the Grand Prix banner, races were commentated on by Murray Walker, with many co-commentators including James Hunt and Jonathan Palmer. Coverage was expanded in the 1990s, when all qualifying and races were shown live - many with Steve Rider fronting the coverage. The loss of the rights to ITV was seen as an example of the BBC Sport department's decline in the late 1990s, although as with cricket, the BBC continued to broadcast every race live on its radio services.

2009 marked the return of BBC television coverage of Formula One after an absence of 12 years. A five year deal was announced in March 2008, replacing ITV's existing coverage.Jake Humphrey anchors the coverage with David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan acting as pundits. Jonathan Legard and Martin Brundle provide the commentary and Ted Kravitz and Lee McKenzie are the pit lane reporters. Brundle and Kravitz are the only two members of the ITV F1 team who made the move to the BBC F1 team. Legendary commentator Murray Walker, who has commentated on F1 for both the BBC and ITV for over 50 years, returned as part of the team, providing analysis and opinion on the BBC's Formula One website. The red button coverage offers alternate Radio 5 Live commentary from David Croft, Anthony Davidson and Maurice Hamilton and CBBC commentary from Michael "Abs" Absalom, Dan Clarkson and Perry McCarthy. A split-screen (showing the main coverage alongside an onboard camera view and a rolling leader board) and a rolling highlights package is also available under the red button. BBC Three will also play a role in the Formula One coverage with a one hour highlights programme. Friday and Saturday's free practice sessions are also shown on the red button.


In 2003 the BBC won the rights to the MotoGP World Championship. After a successful first season, coverage was expanded with more live races, and the contract has now been extended to the end of the 2013 season. The BBC now shows all MotoGP races, with all qualifying sessions live via the BBC Red Button. From the 2009 season, more coverage will be available on qualifying and race days again through the use of the Red Button service[199919]. Suzi Perry is the host, Matt Roberts is the pit lane reporter and commentary is from Charlie Cox and Steve Parrish.

BBC Sport has also covered the North West 200 since 2007.


The BBC holds the exclusive terrestrial rights to show Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics and has shown live coverage of every Summer Olympics since 1960.This long-standing association between the Olympic Games and the BBC will now include coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics to be held in Londonmarker. Presenters for the Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics have included many of the corporation's sports presenters, such as David Coleman, Frank Bough, Des Lynam, Steve Rider and Sue Barker.


For many years, the BBC has covered the biggest events in athletics, stretching as far back as 1954, when Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile. Lead commentator for many decades was David Coleman, until his retirement after the 2000 Summer Olympics. The BBC covers events such as the Commonwealth Games, the World Championships, the European Athletics Championships, domestic British athletics and mass-participation events such as the London Marathon and the Great North Run. The athletics presenting team consists of Sue Barker, Hazel Irvine, Colin Jackson, Steve Cram, Jonathan Edwards, Stuart Storey, Paul Dickenson, Brendan Foster and Michael Johnson.

Horse racing

Although the amount of horse racing on the BBC has declined in recent years, many big races are still to be found on the BBC. The Grand National has for many years been one of the biggest attractions on Grandstand with audiences around or often in excess of 10 million for the race on a Saturday afternoon. Coverage of other events such as Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby are also broadcast, with presenter Clare Balding fronting the coverage.

The Derby was won back after many years in 2001, when the BBC also gained rights to the Epsom Oaks, which had only ever previously been shown by ITV and Channel 4 (until 2001, the commercial broadcasters had always held the Epsommarker contract, but from 1960-1974, in 1977, and in 1979 the BBC had shown the Derby simultaneously with ITV, because it was a protected event which could not be exclusive to either channel). However, many important races have disappeared from the BBC in recent years: the Cheltenham Festivalmarker and other Cheltenhammarker meetings went to Channel 4 in 1995, meetings from Newburymarker moved to Channel 4 in 2002, and after 50 years Glorious Goodwoodmarker and other Goodwoodmarker meetings were lost to Channel 4 in 2007. Also, in 2007 the Irish Derby, which had been included in Grandstand and later Sunday Grandstand for decades, was only shown on At The Races.

The most famous BBC TV racing broadcaster was Peter O'Sullevan, who became one of the first ever TV sports commentators in the immediate post-war years, and stayed with the BBC until 1997.


The BBC holds exclusive UK rights to live coverage to two of the four men's major golf championships, The Open and the US Mastersmarker. Led by veteran commentator Peter Alliss, the team also cover four other European Tour events held in Britain - the PGA Championship, the World Match Play Championship, the British Masters and the Scottish Open, although live coverage of these will be restricted to the weekend's play from 2009 under the new contract negotiated with the European Tour. Sky Sports will cover Thursday and Friday play live. It also covers the Women's British Open. Highlights of the Ryder Cup can also be seen on the BBC. Gary Lineker is the lead presenter of men's golf on the BBC and Hazel Irvine presents the women's events.


The 1960s BBC2 programme Pot Black was arguably the reason for the sport's great popularity over the last 40 years. Snooker produced the largest ever audience for BBC2 with the 1985 World Snooker Championship final between Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor pulling in 19 million viewers just after midnight. The sport always pulls in large viewing figures for the BBC through tournaments such as the World Snooker Championships, the Masters, the UK Championship and the Grand Prix. The coverage is regularly hosted by Hazel Irvine.


The BBC has most recently carried highlights of ICC tournaments such as the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup, held in the West Indiesmarker, and the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 which was staged in England.

BBC Red Button offers live audio commentary (a simulcast of BBC Radio 5 Live / BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra's Test Match Special programme) and scorecards for all of England's matches, home and away.

American football

The BBC currently holds the rights to highlights (primarily broadcast on its web site) and live radio coverage of the NFL. Since 2007, the BBC has also broadcast the Super Bowl live on television.

Jake Humphrey is the presenter. Current studio pundits include Mike Carlson, Rod Woodson, and Jerry Rice.

Other sports

As well as all of this, BBC shows the BDO World Darts Championships, coverage of the Alpine Skiing World Cup under its Ski Sunday banner; and briefly covers sports such as road and track cycling, sailing, badminton, table tennis, squash, equestrianism, gymnastics and other minority sports in an attempt to publicise the type of sports that will make up the forthcoming London 2012 Olympics. Presenters for these sports include Jill Douglas and Phil Jones who often report for other areas of BBC Sport. BBC Sport recently regained coverage of the Boat Race from ITV Sport who pulled out of coverage after the 2009 event. A 5 year contract was signed by BBC Sport to cover the event from 2010 after last covering the event in 2004.

Previous coverage


One of BBC Sport's major criticisms is that it no longer shows any live cricket games, having lost coverage of the Test Matches to Channel 4 and later Sky Sports. Coverage was fronted by Tony Lewis for many years. The BBC was also widely criticised for not even bidding for the rights to show home Test matches when the next set of rights between 2006 and 2009 went up for sale, a decision which it also took for the next contract running until 2013 with the corporation claiming it could neither afford the cost of the rights or fit into their schedules. That honour went exclusively (and rather controversially) to Sky, with nightly highlights on Five. BBC Radio Five Live and BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra do broadcast England matches and some county cricket (along with the BBC's various local stations); many of these radio commentaries are simulcast on BBC Red Button with live scorecards.


The BBC also broadcast the World Rally Championships until 2001, when Channel 4 bought the rights. WRC is now shown on Dave and Eurosport. The British Touring Car Championship was another event the BBC lost when ITV took the broadcasting rights in 2002.

After losing the rights to Formula One and the World Rally Championship, the BBC dabbled in British and World Superbikes for a few years — often showing the World Championship version live. After acquiring the rights to the MotoGP World Championship in 2003 coverage of the World and British Superbikes was dropped.

Radio sports rights

BBC Sport has monopolised the sports commentary market on British radio since the BBC's conception but since 2000, has lost coverage of some sporting events to TalkSPORT. BBC Sport broadcasts its radio commentaries on BBC Radio Five Live and BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra under their Five Live Sports banner and online on the BBC website.

In 2006 BBC Sport won six of the seven available Saturday afternoon broadcast rights packages of 32 games each from the Premier League for three seasons from August 2007.

Sports forum

The BBC also hosts an online sports forum named 606, which was named after the original start-time of the radio programme - six minutes past six. It covers a large variety of topics which include cricket, football, rugby (league and union), tennis, athletics, motorsport and many more. Many sporting teams have their own individual pages where members can post any news or topics relating to that team. Viewers can create their own account, allowing them to write and publish their own articles as well as comment on the topics made by other members. Users can also rate topics on a scale of 1 to 5 (the greater the number, the better the member thinks of it). Staff members can select topics from various categories and label them 'Hot Topics', providing a link to the article from its sports homepage. The forum is heavily moderated, with any off-topic, innapropriate or abusive content generally being removed.


  1. BBC to trial high-definition TV BBC News Online; 8 November 2005
  2. Plenty to look forward to in 2009 BBC Sport
  3. Wimbledon Website - The Championships and The All England Lawn Tennis Club
  4. Coulthard, Jordan & Brundle join BBC BBC Sport, 24 November 2008

See also

External links

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