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NBC/HBO GET TO KEEP THEIR SEAT IN WIMBELDON'S BREAKFAST NOOK
Published December 22, 1994
NBC and HBO retained their rights to televise Wimbledon yesterday, signing a five-year deal worth an estimated $26M-$28M a year. The rights fees signify a 44% increase above the previous deal. HBO Sports President Seth Abraham: "It's a critical deal because we have so few sports franchises." Fox dropped out of the bidding when Wimbledon officials changed the deal from a six-year to a five-year contract. Fox Sports Dir of Communications Vince Wladika said his network needed the extra year to rebuild sagging ratings and balance expected early-year losses with more profit. NBC President Dick Ebersol: "It's a good deal, and if tennis comes back, it'll be a terrific deal." Fox Sports President David Hill: "We wish NBC and HBO all the best with the event. ... But can you imagine what we would have had to come up with to make Wimbledon sexy?" (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 12/22). Wladika: "We declined to bid on five years because we thought it would take six years to turn Wimbledon around." NBC's Wimbledon ratings have declined by 20% in the last five years (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 12/22).