USTA Expects CBS To Increase U.S. Open Rights Fee In Renewal Negotiations
The USTA is in "early talks to renew its broadcast agreement with CBS Sports for the U.S. Open and has communicated that the group expects a hefty increase” from the current $20M annually, according to sources cited by Daniel Kaplan of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The current deal “runs through” the ‘14 event. The sources added that the USTA has “indicated in the early talks that its goal is to have a roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium” by ‘17. The expectation of a higher rights fee in the future “may explain why the USTA last week announced it had agreed to player demands of paying out a significant increase in prize money.” USTA Dir of Corporate Communications Chris Widmaier said, “We have begun discussions with CBS. We are exploring a roof and want to have a roof, but I can’t say by 2017 we will have one.” Kaplan notes whether the U.S. Open “can get a higher rights fee is uncertain.” The sources said that the USTA is “banking on a healthy rights fee environment.” TV consultant Mike Trager said, “If it is just broadcast, it is not such a super-heated market. Any increase would be nominal.” Trager noted that most of the rights fee increases “are on the cable side.” With the U.S. Open signed with ESPN through ‘14, USTA execs “might be able to negotiate a better package across the board when their current deals expire” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/25 issue).