British Eurosport has agreed a three-year deal with the Lawn Tennis Association to be the exclusive pay television broadcaster of the five British grass court tournaments that take place in the lead up to Wimbledon.
Under the terms of the deal, covering 2015 to 2017, the Discovery-owned pan-European channel will broadcast the two pre-Wimbledon ATP tournaments – AEGON Championships at Queen’s Club in London and the new Nottingham Open, which is a dual ATP/WTA tournament.
In addition, the two leading UK-based grass court WTA events – Birmingham Classic and the Eastbourne International – will also be extensively televised by Eurosport.
Tennis is a flagship sport for Eurosport which already broadcasts Great Britain’s Davis Cup ties, as well as the Fed Cup and Hopman Cup, in addition to three of the four Grand Slams – the Australian Open, French Open and the US Open.
The exclusive pay TV rights deal is the biggest of its kind in the UK since Discovery took a controlling stake in the pan-European sports broadcaster last year and is part of the renewed investment in locally relevant, high-quality sports programming.
British Eurosport previously covered the AEGON Championships and Eastbourne International tournaments from the late 1990s to 2013, before BT Sport secured a one-year deal in 2014 to broadcast pay-TV coverage of those events.
This year’s LTA grass court season events will be the first to take place following the changes made to the tour calendar for 2015, which included an extra week between the conclusion of the French Open and the start of Wimbledon, as well as the upgrading of the Queen’s Club tournament to second tier ATP 500 status.
Commenting on the return of LTA grass court tennis to British Eurosport, its managing director David Kerr said: “Everyone at British Eurosport and Discovery is thrilled to bring the British grass court season back to the channel.
“Tennis is a pillar sport for us and to add these prestigious grass court tournaments to our existing portfolio, which includes three of the four Grand Slams strengthens our offering in 2015 and beyond.
“These tournaments in the build up to Wimbledon add a strong local element to our summer tennis coverage.
“Last year we enjoyed our best ever Roland Garros on the channel and we now have an opportunity to promote these domestic grass court events throughout our comprehensive live coverage from Paris to build and retain a strong audience.”
Discovery Networks UK & Ireland EVP & MD Susanna Dinnage added: “This is a fantastic win for British Eurosport and our advertising and distribution partners in the UK.
“Investing in the sports rights for all five grass court tournaments that lead up to Wimbledon strengthens Eurosport’s exclusive pay TV content offering and the brand as leading live sports broadcaster.”
British Eurosport’s new deal does not affect the BBC’s free-to-air coverage of the both the AEGON Championships and Eastbourne International, which the corporation will continue to screen until at least 2017.