French Open to help Ten Sports widen horizons

MUMBAI: While wrestling has successfully maintained visibility for Ten Sports, the Bukhatir Rehman owned broadcaster is looking to extend the depth of its programming! With this goal in mind, the channel has announced that it has acquired the exclusive cable and satellite television rights to the French Open tennis Grand Slam.

The action kicks off on 26 May at 2:30 pm. Readers are no doubt aware that ESPN Star Sports holds the rights for the other three Grand Slams. Ten Sports will have live coverage for the first 10 days while the semis and finals will be on a three hour delay.

Tennis popularity in Europe fails to help sponsors: Meanwhile a new study has found that reports of tennis in popular decline in Europe are off the mark. Sports communications specialist SPORT+MARKT conducted a study into tennis sponsorship and found that levels of interest in the sport and its top tournaments even outscore seemingly more popular sports. Despite such popularity, however, sponsors are struggling to get their message across to these people.

In France, the above mentioned tournament outscored the French national football championship in terms of interest. The study says that 49 per cent of sports-interested French were interested in Roland Garros compared to 45 per cent for Le Championnat.

The success of Spanish tennis players, such as Carlos Moya, Alex Corretja and Juan Carlos Ferrero, who will start as one of the favourites in Paris, has meant that 30 per cent of sports-interested Spanish named tennis as their favourite sport on TV, more than those naming the nationally popular sport of basketball (29 per cent). Tennis' popularity in Spain is confirmed by the fact that it is after football the second most-watched sport on TV.

SPORT+MARKT MD Hartmut Zastrow said:"Tennis is definitely not a dead sport. The commercial problem with tennis lies not in declining levels of interest, but rather the sheer number of different sponsors and advertising forms crammed in and around the sport. The sponsors - even long-term sponsors - are in many cases struggling to obtain good results."

This was demonstrated by the fact that only two of the top six sponsors in tennis, Perrier and BNP Paribas, raised any awareness among European tennis fans, with a number of companies not involved in main sponsorship instead being mentioned.

Wimbledon more popular than Olympics in UK: Interestingly Wimbledon has a 50 per cent higher level of interest among British tennis fans than the Olympic Games in which tennis is a competitive sport. 89 per cent of British tennis fans expressed interest in the oldest Grand Slam tournament, compared to 65 per cent in the Olympics. This level of interest stood head and shoulders above the levels of interest in the Masters Series (22 per cent) and the ATP Tour (21 per cent).

However, UK sports fans remain largely ignorant of the sponsors involved in tennis with more than half unable to name a tennis sponsor in the recent study. Adidas and soft drinks manufacturer Robinsons were the only companies to rate above 10 per cent in awareness as tennis sponsors among UK sports fans.

German have a healthy interest in Wimbledon due to past success by the likes of Graf, Becker and Stich. 31per cent of Germans interested in sport hold an interest in Wimbledon. This was much stronger than their levels of interest in the Davis Cup (23 per cent), The Masters Series (19 per cent) and the ATP Tour (17 per cent).

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