The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) is reportedly in negotiations with IMG Arena, a leading sports content streaming platform, in a major deal for the ATP World Tour. According to an exclusive by SportsBusiness Media, the two entities are working on a deal worth $1 billion that would span ten years and see betting streaming and data rights provided to IMG. If true, it would be the largest media-rights deal in tennis and would give the ATP a significant financial injection.
The deal would reportedly cover the AT World Masters 1000 series, the World Tour 500 series and “some of the 250 series events.” Negotiations are now in their final stages and involve IMG and its commercial arm, ATP.
SportBusiness Media points out that no other data providers, such as Sportradar, Genius Sports or Perform Content, were asked to submit a bid for any potential streaming and data deal. All three will most likely take exception to the deal; however, recourse may be limited. Nonetheless, at least one rival provider is planning on lodging on formal complaint with the ATP and has indicated that it could raise the matter with competition authorities. SportBusiness didn’t indicate which of the rivals is considering taking action.
The ATP not only organizes the ATP World Tour, but it also oversees the rankings system that is used by virtually everyone for men’s tennis. If the deal is consummated, it could create conflicts in the tennis community, as the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has a deal with Sportradar for content. The data provider is already in charge of data information for the Grand Slam tennis events.
There is some concern that, because the ATP didn’t invite any other providers to submit bids, the tennis industry won’t be cleaned up as quickly as hoped. An ongoing scandal involving match-fixing in the sport has reportedly already found possibly as many as 137 players in six countries participating in the activity, and more could be added as the investigation continues. As part of the investigation, it has already been uncovered that at least one Wimbledon doubles match was fixed in 2017 and the scandal could greatly damage the reputation of tennis.