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ESPN Brasil makes tennis play with move for ATP Tour rights

The Brazilian arm of global sports broadcaster ESPN is close to acquiring the rights to a host of ATP tournaments as it makes a play for premium tennis properties in the country.

ESPN Brasil is understood to be nearing an agreement to acquire the rights to nine ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, namely Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo, Madrid, Rome, the Canada Masters, Cincinnati, Shanghai and Paris, and the ATP Finals from 2021.

ESPN Brasil would also share some of the rights with Fox Sports as a term of the two parties’ merger earlier this year, according to details reported by UOL in Brazil.

Brazilian media group Globo holds the rights to the top-tier ATP World Tour 1000 tournaments and the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals in a deal that expires in 2020.

Bandeirantes, the Brazilian media group with free-to-air and pay-TV channels, currently holds rights to ATP World Tour 500 events, the ATP World Tour 250 tournaments distributed by IMG and the Next Gen ATP Finals. The Rio Open was excluded from the list of 500 events secured by Bandeirantes given the organisers sell the domestic broadcast rights themselves.

An invitation to tender was issued for broadcast rights in Brazil to ATP Tour events was issued in October 2019. The rights on offer will ran from 2021 to 2023 and also included the French Open.

ATP Media, the broadcast production and sales arm of the men’s ATP Tour, sells its worldwide broadcast rights in conjunction with IMG. The agency also brokers media-rights deals in Brazil on behalf of the French Tennis Federation (FFT).

Globo’s ability to bid for the rights may be hamstrung by its current financial situation in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The media group has already cancelled a contract for the continent’s top-tier competition, the Copa Libertadores, due to its current position.