IS USTA'S ASKING PRICE TOO HIGH FOR CBS TO KEEP OPEN RIGHTS?
Published September 1, 1995
CBS must decide by Tuesday whether it wants to renew for five more years as broadcaster of the U.S. Open. But, Richard Sandomir notes in this morning's N.Y. TIMES, "if CBS does not double what it now pays, it will lose another high-profile sports property." The USTA, working with IMG as its agent, wants an average of $38M for its next five-year deal, up from about $19M. If CBS rejects that, bidding is open to the other broadcast nets with Fox "expected to be the strongest competitor." If another net does not offer what the USTA is seeking, CBS has the right to match and renew through 2000. CBS Sports President David Kenin: "Obviously, we'd like to keep it, but we have to do the right deal. They're asking for a dramatic increase. It's an important event, but it's not as important to our affiliates as it is to us." David Winner, Coordinating Producer of the tournament: "Not keeping it sends a message to the sports department that we don't matter very much. I'd be shocked if we don't renew it." CBS Sports Senior VP Rick Gentile: "We can't afford to lose anything. We don't have the luxury of having any properties to replace it with. Forty hours of tennis is a lot to take out of your arsenal." The decision rests with CBS Chair Laurence Tisch, not prospective buyer Westinghouse (N.Y. TIMES, 9/1). Phil Mushnick writes that CBS is in a "bad spot as it's being forced to overbid" to keep the tournament (N.Y. POST, 9/1). WORLDWIDE COVERAGE: ProServ Television, which is exclusive domestic and international marketer for the U.S. Open, has announced that 147 countries are taking coverage from the tourney, up 8% from last year (PSTV).