June 24, 2024

Open Court


Reports: Roland Garros US rights to move to WB Discovery for 2025

ROLAND GARROS – It wasn’t a tennis or sports media outlet that originally broke the story. Rather, it was the longstanding Hollywood entertainment staple Variety.

Their scoop is that as of next year, the U.S. broadcast rights for Roland Garros will move from a Tennis Channel/NBC combination to … TNT Sports, owned by Warner Bros. Discovery.

The Variety story is here.

A few hours later, The Athletic added details from its own sources: 10 years, $650 million U.S. for the rights.

The parent company has not yet commented.

NBC has aired Roland Garros – the French Open on the other side of the pond – since 1983 with the exception of a few years.

Tennis Channel has had some portion of the rights since 2007 and in 2016, broadcast the entire event on its own. In recent years, the coverage stateside has been a hodgepodge of Tennis Channel, NBC and NBC’s streaming service, Peacock.

None of which made it easy to find for potential viewers, especially as Tennis Channel isn’t available to all and Peacock, even less so.

What is “Warner Bros. Discovery”?

With all the mergers of media companies in recent years, it’s hard to remember what’s what.

But Warner Bros. Discovery owns TNT, and TBS, and other specialty cable channels. And the Max streaming service. It also co-owns another sports-only streaming service called Venu with Fox and Disney, which is expected to debut in the fall and obviously will need content.

It also owns the execrable “Bleacher Report”, which Variety reports will be its hub on the digital side.

More pertinently, the parent company also owns Eurosport, which has owned most of the rights to Roland Garros in Europe for decades. So there’s a synergy there.

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Will it be easier for US fans?

That’s the big question.

At first glance, it seems .. exciting, right? All the tennis on TNT, which is on the basic cable tier basically everywhere in the country.

It’s like the old days of the US Open mostly being on the USA Network.

Even back in 2007, the USA Network/DirecTV collab brought multiple matches at once to your TV screen.

But in 2024, things are never that simple.

Variety reports that the tournament will broadcast the tournament on its cable networks and on MAX, which is subcription-based. And, you would expect, on the new sports streaming service as well. Which also won’t be free.

So while all the outlets will at least be owned by the same company, it might not make it any easier to find the matches you’re looking for. Or cheaper.

It’s far too soon to know how it will all play out; the company hasn’t even officially confirmed the news yet.

But you know that the folks at Tennis Channel, for whom Roland Garros is the only major of the season (the other three are aired on ESPN) and on NBC, which despite the fact that it has sort of bobbled the tennis ball on its coverage in recent years, are disappointed.

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