Fox, SBS land French Open rights, Tennis Australia launches tender

The French Tennis Federation (FFT) has agreed rights deals in Australia for the French Open grand slam with pay-television broadcaster Fox Sports and public-service broadcaster SBS, while Tennis Australia has launched a domestic tender for rights to the Australian Open and other tournaments.

The three-year deals, running from 2018 to 2020, see Fox Sports continue to cover the French Open while SBS becomes the new free-to-air home of the Roland-Garros tournament.

Fox Sports viewers will receive the most comprehensive daily coverage, which includes the first three hours of each day’s play exclusively live in prime-time, from 7pm local time. Fox Sports will simulcast all matches from the quarter finals onwards with SBS. All matches available on Fox Sports will also be streamed live via Foxtel’s new streaming service, Foxtel Now. 

SBS will broadcast live action from rounds one to four from 10pm each night, with the men’s and women’s singles matches shown in full from the quarter final stage onwards. Streaming service SBS On Demand will live stream these televised matches and provide extended match highlights for catch up.

FFT president Bernard Giudicelli said: “(These contracts) will enable us to guarantee great visibility for the tournament and will help us to increase Roland-Garros’ influence in this part of the world, which has a real tennis culture. This agreement ties in perfectly with the tournament’s international development.”

Meanwhile, Tennis Australia has issued its request for proposals tender document for domestic rights to the Australian Open and other tournaments organised by the body.

A deadline has been set for bids of April 12, although the Australian Financial Review newspaper noted a deal could be struck before this point, adding that the length of a new agreement has not been specified by Tennis Australia.

The tender offers two separate packages. The first package is top-tier games such as finals and key prime-time matches, while the second is every point of the Australian Open Series, Davis Cup and Fed Cup.

Long-time partner, commercial broadcaster Seven, currently holds rights across the 2015 to 2019 cycle. The Financial Review noted that Tennis Australia’s exclusive negotiating period with Seven lapsed this week, but it is considered the favourite to retain its rights.

“We are continuing talks with Seven but are also talking to the rest of the market,” Tennis Australia commercial director Richard Heaselgrave told the newspaper. “Our objectives are to get the best outcome for the sport of tennis in Australia. Having won the free-to-air ratings on every night of (this year's Australian Open) we believe we offer great value.”