ESPN-STAR Sports has acquired the live and exclusive telecast rights for the French Open Grand Slam tournament for a period of five years in South Asia, starting with the next championship in May-June, 2007. Roland Garros will add to the existing strong line-up of tennis programming on ESPN and STAR Sports, which already includes the Australian Open, Wimbledon, ATP Masters Series, Tennis Masters Cup and other national and Asian level tournaments.
Speaking on the acquisition, R C Venkateish, Managing Director, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd, said, “Popularity of tennis has been growing steadily in India, fuelled by the constant progress made by Indian players at the international level. We are in the business of bringing top sporting action to our fans and the French Open fits in beautifully with our tennis calendar, making our offering even more satisfying for Indian tennis fans.”
Michel Grach, Commercial Director of the FFT, said, “We are extremely pleased to be associated with ESPN-STAR Sports for the telecast of the French Open for the next five years. Being a premier tournament, we are indeed delighted that the leader in international sport will be showing the tournament live in the Indian sub-continent, providing tennis fans a chance to see some of the game’s best in action..”
ESPN-STAR Sports has the lion’s share of major Indian tennis tournaments, being the official broadcaster of the recently-concluded Mumbai Open and having broadcast earlier this year the Bangalore and Chennai Opens.
The winning of the telecast rights for the French Open adds to the portfolio of the channel as a leader in worldwide sports with properties like the English Premier League and Spanish La Liga in soccer, rights to live cricket action from six Test playing nations, all races of the F1 season, A1 Grand Prix and MotoGP, regular shows of TNA wrestling and Pride FC and Indian Hockey Federation’s very own Premier Hockey League.