Tennis returns to TF1 in Davis Cup Finals deal

Live free-to-air coverage of France’s games at the new Davis Cup Finals will be shown by TF1 after the French commercial broadcaster announced a rights agreement.

TF1 said that the games would mainly be aired on TMC, its free-to-air digital terrestrial channel, but that games could also be shown on its main channel depending on the French team’s success.

Pay-TV broadcaster beIN Sports already holds rights to all matches.

The inaugural Davis Cup Finals will take place from November 18-24 at the Caja Magica in Madrid, featuring the top 18 countries in a round-robin group-stage format followed by a knockout phase. France will tackle Japan and Serbia in Group A.

The new tournament is organised and promoted by Kosmos Tennis, in partnership with the International Tennis Federation, and TF1 has clearly been won over by the best-of-three set format that it believes will be more attractive for viewers.

France Télévisions has broadcast France’s matches in the Davis Cup under a sublicensing contract with beIN signed at the start of 2016.

The semi-finals and finals of the Davis Cup (or Fed Cup) involving the French team remain part of France’s list of protected events that must be aired on free-to-air television. The French team has reached three of the last five editions of the World Group Final.

The acquisition of rights by TF1 represents a return to the broadcasting of tennis for the free-to-air network. In 2015, TF1 picked up non-exclusive rights to the Wimbledon semi-final between France’s Richard Gasquet and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in a sub-licensing agreement with beIN.

The Wimbledon semi-final aired on TMC and netted an average audience of 485,000 viewers (along with a 5-per-cent market share).