110sport.tv is not showing the UK Championship qualifiers next week and may not cover any more of the main tour qualifiers following a disagreement with World Snooker just a few months into a three year deal signed earlier this year.
110sport are unhappy that secondary rights have been sold to bookmakers to be streamed free on betting websites.
It would obviously discourage viewers from paying for 110’s coverage if they could get it free elsewhere.
There was apparently a clause in the original contract but I understand 110sport believed this applied only to betting shops.
For the same stream to be available both on a pay per view basis and free would be a little like the All England Club selling the Wimbledon rights to Sky Sports and then a week later selling the same rights to the BBC.
Of course, without 110sport’s pictures the bookies are unable to show any of the action either, so it looks as if the online coverage of qualifiers has come to an end after only three events.
110sport is now likely to concentrate on its own events, such as the Legends series it launched in Glenrothes last month.
I asked World Snooker for a comment two days ago but have not received one so am unable to put their side of the story.
Streaming the qualifiers was a great opportunity to showcase the game and, in particular, some of the lesser known players further down the rankings.
When the deal was announced, World Snooker said: “The standard of play at the qualifiers is unbelievably high, and now fans across the world have the chance to watch some of the legends of the sport and up-and-coming stars in action.”
Not any more they don’t.
UPDATE: 110sport tell me there may be an eleventh hour deal in place in time to show at least some of the coverage from next week.
ANOTHER UPDATE: World Snooker has now, finally, put a statement on its website in which it denies any disagreement, although doesn't deny there is one between 110sport and World Snooker's broadcast agents, IMG.
I gave them two days to put their side of the story and supply a comment yet they chose not to. It would have cleared up any confusion about the precise nature of the dispute, although the material facts remain true: there is today no coverage of the UK Championship qualifiers for the reasons I stated above.