ESPN, ATP World Tour Reach Broadcast Rights Deal For Three Events
ESPN and the ATP World Tour have finalized a long-term deal for expanded coverage of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Sony Open in Miami and the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The agreement will result in more than 44 hours of televised coverage, including the first time both the men's and women's championships will air from the South Florida event (ESPN). In California, Leighton Ginn reports the new ESPN/ABC deal with the BNP Paribas Open "will run through the end of the 2020 tournament." Tournament Dir Steve Simon said, "It’s the longest one we’ve had, and to have ESPN and ABC make that kind of commitment reflects how the tournament has grown and [its] stature in the game." Ginn notes the BNP Paribas Open "had a three-year agreement with ESPN and ABC that ended at the completion of this year’s tournament." With the new agreement, the tournament’s "final weekend will be televised on ABC starting in 2015." Simon said that there are "current agreements that keep the tournament off ABC this year and next." Ginn notes in addition to televised matches, ESPN3 will provide "additional live multi-screen coverage, via WatchESPN." Meanwhile, Simon said that there "will be an announcement in the coming weeks" regarding Tennis Channel's coverage of the event (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 9/19).
RATINGS TRENDS: ESPN Senior Dir of Programming & Acquisitions Jason Bernstein said of the net's tennis ratings during what many consider to be the Golden Age of the sport, "In general, yes, tennis has done well over the last decade. But it’s still such an individual sport that it depends on the player. Andre Agassi was as big a ratings star as any player today. The proven ratings winners for us now are the Williams sisters and Roger (Federer), and now Rafa [Nadal] has shown that he can bring people in. But we haven’t seen that with matches between Novak (Djokovic) and Andy (Murray) yet. Tennis can still be a challenge without a name-brand star." He added of any fear that ratings will fall as Federer's career winds down, "Tennis always tends to have a big star who is doing well. Roger has faded a little lately, but Rafa and Serena have performed extremely well. What hurts us more is when we show tournaments in the U.S. where the top European players don’t play, and where people withdraw at the last minute. We'd like to see more players come to the U.S. summer series" (TENNIS.com, 9/17).