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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, February 3, 2021


ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi's strategic vision calls for the ATP, WTA and Grand Slams to unite, pool digital rights and give fans the best possible experience.

Photo credit: Australian Open Facebook

The Coronavirus pandemic stopped tennis for six months and prompted social distancing.

ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi proposes ultimate unity to propel the sport's popularity in a post-pandemic world.

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In a new interview with Global Sports Week Paris, Gaudenzi calls for the ATP, WTA and Grand Slams to "form a unique governing body", pool digital rights and give fans the best possible experience.

"Different governing bodies like the ATP and WTA and the Grand Slams we go to market in separate years in separate cycles to sell our rights," Gaudenzi told Global Sports Week Paris. "So we don't centralize our rights in a common data base. To a certain extent we have different rules so a lot of the time is spent in conflicts between tournaments and players and between the various governing bodies.

"So I think we should try to work united and try to form a unique governing body for the entire sport because we can definitely deliver a better experience to our fans, which love our sport."

Global Sports Week Paris is an annual international forum that brings together leaders and disruptors from sport, business, culture, media, government and society. Its agenda is focused on the future of sport at the intersection of business and society.

While the ATP chief stopped short of proposing a full-fledged merger between the men's and women's governing bodies, he asserts tennis is on the verge of a major growth opportunity and must unite to maximize its presence on the digital stage. Gaudenzi says rather than disparate governing bodies battling among themselves for sponsorship and to protect their digital territory, tennis can best leverage its strength with a united front.

Life for tennis fans following the sport across broadcast platforms presents a series of "pain points" Gaudenzi said. He argues if tennis is to tap its global growth potential then it must become more accessible for fans. 

"Most of the countries today if you want to watch tennis you probably have to go through four or five different subscriptions. So the pain point is quite high for a fan today to watch all tennis Grand Slams, ATP, WTA and the Davis Cup," Gaudenzi said. "So we're working hard to improve that. In terms of the opportunity, it's definitely on the digital side.

"We're definitely coming from a world of linear programming where tennis always kind of struggled because the challenge around tennis is you don't really know how long matches last, you don't know when it starts and most of the time you don't know who's playing until the day before, which is very different from soccer or Formula One. Soccer, specifically is 90 minutes, and in the world of linear programming was very easy to program."

As more sports shift to digital platforms, Gaudenzi urges unity to keep tennis ahead of the game.

Tennis Express

A former ATP player, Gaudenzi believes the frequency of the global game—pre-pandemic tennis is played 11 months a year in different time zones all over the world—make it the ideal digital sport.

"We are in the entertainment business ultimately," Gaudenzi said. "Not only are we competing with the other sport properties but we compete with music, we compete with gaming, we compete with Netflix and Amazon. So competition is getting tougher, but I think there will be an opportunity because these media tech giants at some point will come into the space and they will start buying sports rights.

"To a certain extent, they've already started. We've done a deal with Amazon in the UK. So they're already approaching us. It's going to be an interesting evolution from linear and cable to digital in the next 10, 15 years and we definitely want to be ahead of the game. That's our plan."


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