Tennis·Poll

WTA signs $500M media rights deal

The WTA agreed to a media rights contract it says will be worth more than $525 million over 10 seasons from 2017 to 2026, with plans to produce all 2,000 or so singles matches on the women's tennis tour each year.

Big score for women's tennis over 10 years

Canada's Eugenie Bouchard has emerged as one of the rising, and most marketable stars in women's tennis. The WTA announced Tuesday that it has signed a new $500 million media rights deal to broadcast its matches. (Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The WTA agreed to a media rights contract it says will be worth more than $525 million over 10 seasons from 2017 to 2026, with plans to produce all 2,000 or so singles matches on the women's tennis tour each year.

The deal, announced Tuesday, keeps the WTA's international television rights with its current broadcast distribution partner, PERFORM, but expands the scope of the relationship. Their current agreement runs from 2013-16.

WTA Chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster called the new deal "a game-changer," and said it will "give fans more access to the players they want to watch."

Under the existing contract with PERFORM, Allaster said, only about a third of the singles matches at WTA events were produced for broadcast around the world.

"What league in North America only broadcasts a third of their games?" Allaster said in a telephone interview.

Now the tour and PERFORM are forming WTA Media, which will produce all main-draw matches in singles, along with the semifinals and finals in doubles, at every tour event, plus develop content for the web and magazine shows for TV.

Allaster said the new deal includes guaranteed annual TV rights fees of $33 million from PERFORM, nearly double the $17 million per year currently. It also includes what she said was "eight figures" a year in "production investment."

"Their investment at this level makes a very significant statement about the value they see in the WTA," Allaster said about PERFORM. "This comes at a time when we look at the horizon and we will have a changing of the guard of our current top stars, which shows the value and depth of our rising stars."

The new package adds rights to the WTA's international tournaments; the previous contract covered only higher-level premier events.

In a statement, PERFORM's joint-CEO, Simon Denyer, said his group believes in the "exceptional sport entertainment value of the WTA."

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