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Volume 10 No. 22
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WTA Signs Record $525M, 10-Year Broadcast Contract With Perform Group

The women’s tennis tour "signed the biggest broadcasting contract in the sport," as Perform Group Plc agreed to pay $525M for rights to singles matches over 10 years, according to Danielle Rossingh of BLOOMBERG. The agreement "creates a company called WTA Media that will produce all 2,000 main draw matches on the women’s tour live from 2017." It will also "make news programs, magazine shows and off-court content that fans can watch on television, computers or hand-held devices such as phones or tablets." WTA Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster: "This is a game changer and a historic moment for the WTA and women’s sport." Sports and media rights company Perform outbid talent agency IMG, which Allaster said created "healthy competition" (BLOOMBERG, 12/9). The AP's Howard Fendrich reported the deal keeps WTA's int'l TV rights with its current distribution partner, Perform, "but expands the scope of the relationship." Allaster said that the new deal includes guaranteed annual TV rights fees of $33M from Perform, nearly double the $17M per year currently. It also includes what she said was "eight figures" a year in "production investment." Allaster: "Their investment at this level makes a very significant statement about the value they see in the WTA" (AP, 12/9). FORBES' Alicia Jessop wrote the deal "not only marks the largest live media rights and production venture in the history of the WTA, but also the largest media rights agreement in the history of women’s sports." The media rights deal "should come as no surprise to anyone who follows the association." Earlier this year, Allaster noted that she "had finished drafting the WTA’s strategic business plan for 2020." In that discussion, she said, “Content is at the center of our strategic plan for growth." She added, "For us to financially grow and engage with fans, we felt we needed a more direct relationship and that we should be controlling the narrative between all of the WTA’s controlled assets" (FORBES, 12/9).