While snooker may have been dying in the UK and Ireland over the last number of years, it is certainly on the rise in many other parts of the world, most notably China and mainland Europe. In 2010 snooker appeared doomed, but since Barry Hearn took over, the game has gone from strength to strength, particularly abroad with more and more events taking place each year.
Back here at home, the game has continued to dwindle in the UK and as a result, snooker’s biggest television broadcaster, the BBC, started cutting back on the air-time snooker was receiving for more profitable ventures.
Eurosport has been showing snooker for the past 2 decades, albeit minimal at first but now almost fully comprehensive across most tournaments. Not only is Eurosport showing the snooker here in the UK, but also on mainland Europe in a variety of different languages. Working in conjunction with World Snooker, Eurosport has played a major role in the revival of the game that was once doomed.
There was a hint of scepticism when World Snooker announced the new TV deal with Eurosport. For most snooker fans, the worry being; Was Eurosport going to deliver the same level of TV coverage and commentary as the BBC have done for the past 5 decades. The simple answer was yes, they were.
It’s been evident that the BBC have been winding down their coverage over the past number of years. Last year during the World Championships the BBC cut snooker matches, even at crucial times to broadcast shows such as Bargain Hunt and Eggheads to the annoyance of snooker fans.
In the past year in particular, Eurosport has stepped above and beyond that of the BBC coverage and now has the best panel of pundits, some would argue. We all love listening to Willie Thorne, Dennis Taylor and John Virgo on the BBC who have been wonderful commentators throughout the years but as they’ve aged Eurosport have brought in younger and more popular pundits such as Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neil Foulds to rival those of the BBC.
Granted, Eurosport still has some work to do; Some of the commentary during matches needs improvement for sure. Additionally Eurosport need to work on more live punditry before, during and after matches and not be limited to UK only events.
What fans have loved recently is Eurosports new live panel where Ronnie and Jimmy reconstruct shots from matches along with having their own TV area within the venue itself, where players can be interviewed straight after matches.
The BBC will remain the dominant broadcaster for the big events such as the World Championships, UK Championships and the Masters but i suspect not for too much longer. The BBC has a deal with World Snooker that extends to 2019 for the World Championships but what happens after that is unclear.
Some people still prefer the BBC coverage and for that reason will continue watching with them and fill in the gaps with Eurosport when BBC cut the coverage for Bargain Hunt at 5pm.
For the younger generation and those who are particular fans of Ronnie and Jimmy, Eurosport will be the new way forward for snooker broadcasting.