ATP Media revenues up 15 per cent after key European broadcast deals

Revenues at ATP Media, the ATP Tour’s international media rights sales and broadcast production arm, reached $139.5m (€128.6m) in 2019 thanks, in part, to new broadcast deals in France, Spain and the UK.

The revenue figure is a 15.3-per-cent jump on the $121m in revenues reported in 2018.

ATP Media’s gross profit rose by 23.5 per cent to $16.8m in 2019 on the back of controlled production and distribution costs, with profit for the financial year totalling $4.9m, according to recently-lodged audited financial statements seen by SportBusiness Media.

Live broadcast rights sales represent the lion’s share of the revenues, supplemented by the sale of subscriptions to the ATP Tennis TV streaming service, revenues from ATP Tennis Radio and archive rights sales. ATP Media distributes its worldwide broadcast rights in conjunction with the IMG agency.

New broadcast contracts in France, Spain and the UK took effect from the beginning of the 2019 season.

In France, Discovery-owned broadcaster Eurosport acquired the rights in a five-year deal, while Movistar Plus, the Spanish pay-television broadcaster owned by Telefónica, picked up the rights from 2019 to 2021.

In the UK, online retail giant Amazon displaced pay-television broadcaster Sky in a five-year deal from 2019 to 2023 worth just over £10m (€11.4m/$12.4m) per year. An improved deal with Tennis Channel in the US market (from 2018 to 2020) also boosted the 2019 results.

Unfavourable British pound sterling and Euro exchange rates hit the broadcast rights revenues slightly, but exchange rates also helped to cut pound sterling costs in 2019.

Total administrative expenses rose by 21 per cent to $11m on the back of investment in support structures.

News of the 2019 results comes with ATP Media bracing itself for the financial hit to be felt from the Covid-19 shutdown. The men’s ATP Tour (and women’s WTA Tour) remain suspended until at least July 13 and further decisions on the 2020 calendar are expected by the middle of May.

Five Masters 1000 tournaments, three ATP 500 tournaments and seven ATP 250 tournaments were due to be staged during the current suspension period and it remains to be seen if the events can be rescheduled for later in the year.

ATP Media employs 28 production staff and 14 administrative staff, according to the 2019 accounts. ATP Media declined to comment when asked by SportBusiness about any furloughing measures being taken to offset the impact of the global shutdown.

New rights inventory also came into play in 2020 with the launch of the ATP Cup, an international teams competition. The event took place in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney from January 3-12 and broadcast rights were distributed in over 180 territories worldwide.

In its role as the broadcast production co-ordinator for Masters 1000s, 500 and centralised 250 series events, ATP Media tested augmented reality graphics last year and is looking to introduce the service in 2020.

ATP Media recently teamed up with IMG Arena, the sports betting arm of the IMG agency, to develop a virtual ATP Masters 1000 tennis product for the betting market. The game has been created as bookmakers worldwide continue to be hit by the dearth of live sports action amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

In a bid to retain engagement with the tennis fanbase, the ATP and WTA have also joined forces to launch a weekly programme on their digital platforms. Entitled ‘Tennis United’, the show debuted on April 17, offering interviews and discussions with players and other influential figures from throughout the game, along with a round-up of the week’s best social media posts.