SBJ/June 8 - 14, 1998/No Topic Name

New WTA pact pays off with Eurosport contract

The Corel WTA Tour inked a multi-year broadcast pact with Eurosport, Europe's top cable sports provider, to televise roughly 80 women's tennis matches on European television.

The Eurosport deal was negotiated for WTA by Regency Enterprises, the Hollywood film producer hired several weeks ago by the women's tour to distribute global TV rights to women's tennis matches.

The Eurosport deal marks the first dividend of the Regency pact for WTA, which is aggressively trying to promote its sport.

IMG had been distributing global TV rights, netting the WTA roughly $5 million a year in revenues. WTA hopes that over the possible nine-year life of the Regency relationship, global TV rights could bring in more than $200 million in revenue. The association would not disclose how much Eurosport would pay for the new broadcast deal.

"This agreement provides more comprehensive and consistent European television coverage than we have ever had in the past, and more than twice the revenues," said Bart McGuire, Corel WTA Tour chief executive. "This is the first step. We are just beginning to build the exposure of women's tennis."

Eurosport already televises the French and Australian Opens, as well as several men's ATP Tour events. The WTA is negotiating with the ATP on merging several tournaments. Under terms of the Eurosport pact, the WTA has until June 30 to include merged ATP-WTA tournaments in the broadcast package.

Eurosport will begin broadcasting women's matches in 1999, and the number of televised matches will increase 10 percent in 2000 and 2001. The package will be presented by the WTA Tour's corporate partner Puma AG. Regency owns 25 percent of Puma.

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