Roland Garros domestic media rights tender hits the market
By Jonathan Rest
The French Tennis Federation (FFT) has launched an invitation to tender for domestic media rights to the French Open, the grand slam clay court tournament.
The tender, open to all media operators, covers the 2021, 2022 and 2023 editions of the tournament at Roland Garros, and the FFT will be confident of an increase on the €24 million ($27.1 million) per year it currently receives in domestic media rights revenue with the introduction of floodlights meaning matches can be played in the evening, at prime-time, in the next cycle.
The FFT said interested parties have until 18 July to submit bids, with the rights expected to be awarded the next day.
FFT president Bernard Giudicelli claimed there had already been “many signs of interest."
The FFT has split the rights into three packages:
- Lot 1: all matches excluding those played on Simonne-Mathieu, the new court opened this year, and the evening sessions
- Lot 2: all matches played on Simonne-Mathieu and the evening sessions
- Lot 3: Tournament exclusivity, including sub-licensing rights, and rights to four men’s ATP 250 tournaments played in France
The winners of Lot 1 and 2 will co-broadcast all the rounds in the tournament.
The FFT said in a statement: "The ambition of this call for applications is to optimise the revenues of the FFT while maintaining a strong exposure of the tournament.”
Domestic French Open rights are presently held by France Télévisions, the public-service broadcaster, and Eurosport France, the French arm of the pan-European sports broadcaster, in a two-year deal to 2020 worth €24 million per year.
The pair also held the rights from 2014 to 2018 in a deal worth €17.5 million per year.
The latest two-year rights cycle was implemented by the FFT so that the new tender ties in with the schedule for the future improvements to Roland Garros. From 2021, there will be one match per evening played on Philippe Chatrier (the centre court), which will have a retractable roof from 2020.
The FFT will hope to avoid a repeat of the 2014-18 sales process when it scrapped its invitation to tender process after dismissing bids from France Télévisions and Eurosport deemed to be unacceptable.
France Télévisions has held domestic broadcast rights to the French Open since 1987, and spent around €15.5 million per year in its contract that expired after the 2013 tournament.
In 2014, Eurosport acquired the exclusive TV rights in France to matches between 11am (CET) and 3pm on the first nine days of the tournament, a condition that helped to increase the overall fee (France Télévisions can only show these matches on its internet and mobile platforms).
Last Sunday’s men’s singles final, which featured a record 12th Roland Garros win for Spain’s Rafael Nadal, was watched by an average of 3.31 million viewers on France 2. A day earlier, France 2 pulled in 1.8 million viewers, a 21.1-per-cent share, to see Australia’s Ashleigh Barty win her first grand slam in the women's final.