Sky poised to win live tennis rights after Amazon streaming deal

·2-min read
Emma Raducanu - Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports
Emma Raducanu - Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

Sky is poised to play host to live tennis amid fears the sport was losing its profile as a result of an exclusive streaming deal with Amazon.

The broadcaster is putting finishing touches to an agreement with the ATP and WTA Tours, which operate the men’s and women’s professional circuits, to serve up matches from next year. It will significantly expand Sky’s live tennis programming after it won back the rights to the US Open in a five-year deal that starts in August.

Amazon declared itself the “home of tennis” in the UK after buying up the ATP and WTA rights. It scored a ratings hit in 2021, when it streamed Emma Raducanu’s historic US Open victory after securing a last-minute deal to share the rights with Channel 4.

But it is understood the ATP has been disappointed by viewing figures on the Amazon Prime streaming platform and is hoping to reach a wider audience through a combination of traditional broadcasting and streaming with Sky.

The broadcaster is seeking long-term deals with sports less popular than football, and has launched dedicated channels for Formula 1, cricket and golf.

Tennis's break with Amazon comes as sports rights holders and the media industry reassess the economics of streaming.

Streaming giants including Netflix and Disney are shedding subscribers as competition in the market heats up and consumers tighten their purse strings amid the cost of living crisis.

Disney chief executive Bob Iger has vowed to cut costs and refocus efforts on traditional theatrical releases for its blockbusters after the company racked up a further $1.1bn of losses in its streaming division in the fourth quarter.

Nevertheless, Amazon retains a significant interest in sports streaming through various football and rugby rights.

The ecommerce giant last year signed a deal to show Uefa Champions League games in the UK as part of a package shared with BT.

Amazon also shows 20 Premier League games per season, as well as the Autumn Nations rugby series.

Apple is reportedly also considering a move into sports rights through a deal to show Premier League games in the UK, as well as lower league matches run by the English Football League.

Sky’s package of tennis rights includes the finals of both tours, the Masters 1000 series in Indian Wells, Miami and Madrid, as well as various matches in the ATP 500 and 250 tournaments.

The BBC still holds the rights to Wimbledon after its partnership with the All England Club – the longest in sports broadcasting history – was extended to 2027. The Australian Open and French Open are broadcast by Eurosport.