World Snooker has agreed an expanded five-year rights deal with UK commercial broadcaster ITV, according to Barry Hearn, chairman of the sport’s world governing body.
Hearn’s announcement, made during the ongoing World Championship, comes after ITV last week extended its rights deal for the second edition of the Champion of Champions tournament.
ITV provided live coverage of the inaugural 2013 event on digital channel ITV4 and will continue to do so when it returns to Coventry’s Ricoh Arena from November 3-9.
However, Hearn has now said a five-year deal has been put in place encompassing both the Champion of Champions and a new World Grand Prix event. “I'm delighted to announce a new five-year deal with ITV4 for both the continuation of the Champion of Champions, which was previously only a one-year deal but had sensational figures, and they've also come in for another tournament which will be called the World Grand Prix,” Hearn said.
Commenting on the new World Grand Prix event, Hearn added: “It's a name from the past but a different type of tournament. This will take place from March 16-22 – every ball will be televised live by ITV. We're just working on the venue at the moment.
“It will be the top 32 players on a one-year ranking system from the beginning of this year's World Championship. It will be a £100,000 (€122,000/$168,000) first prize, a £300,000-plus tournament and a valuable addition to our free-to-air coverage in the UK.”