The BBC has lost the radio rights to the Oxford and Cambridge boat race just nine months after seeing television coverage of the event snatched by ITV.
Chrysalis-owned talk radio station LBC has signed an exclusive five-year deal to broadcast the annual Boat Race, in a move that brings an end to the BBC’s 78-year unbroken involvement with the prestigious sporting event.
The deal begins with next year’s race on 27 March and follows six months of negotiations between LBC and the Boat Race company. LBC only broadcasts in London, but the station’s coverage will be available on digital radio and the internet.
Mark Flanagan, managing director of LBC, said: “We want to make the Boat Race accessible, interesting and even more connected to London. Through some exciting new approaches, we will create a family occasion in which our listeners can participate and enjoy. The entire event will create a real buzz, both on-air and off-air.”
Christopher Rodrigues, chairman, the Boat Race Company, added: “LBC’s plans will mean that the radio coverage of the Boat Race will be entertaining, informative and interactive. Moreover, for the first time in its illustrious history, the Boat Race has a meaningful opportunity to build on its excellent relationship with London.”
LBC’s contract comes just nine months after ITV snatched the television rights to the event. The BBC said it had decided to end its long-running coverage of the Boat Race in the light of the organiser’s desire to pursue a highly commercial agenda (see ITV Snatches Boat Race Broadcast Rights From BBC).The Boat Race has traditionally been a big ratings winner for broadcasters with nearly nine million viewers tuning in to watch BBC One’s coverage of the event in March. this saw Cambridge secure a controversial win over Oxford in what was the 150th Boat Race to take place on the Thames (see BBC Sinks Competition With Boat Race Coverage).
BBC: 020 8743 8000 www.bbc.co.uk
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