While the French tennis players and tennis players did not shine on the sands of Porte d’Auteuil that first week, Guy Forget, the director of the Paris tournament, did not really have time to mourn his compatriots’ failing athletes. At the center of the news is the French Grand Slam decisions that are unfortunate both in the world of professional tennis and outside of it.
The reasons for this anger? Many see only one person responsible: Amazon. The American giant, led by Jeff Bezos, has regained a large part of the broadcast rights for Roland Garros games, and “RG”, a first in the history of the 130-year-old tournament, is no longer clearly available. If the pay channel broadcasts of the Paris tennis tournament aren’t a great premiere – Eurosport has had the rights to the tournament for years – it will be the first time games from the tournament are donated to a pay channel only, as happened here Platform: Amazon Prime Video.
The problem of “night sessions”
One of these games, which cannot be found on the channels of the France Télévision group, is the “Night Sessions”. These evening posters, which start at 9 p.m., are the exclusive property of Amazon. A first problem, which, however, accumulates with another one, that of the curfew. Because if these games are not available on France Télévisions, it is impossible to go to the Porte d’Auteuil, in the stands of the Philippe Chatrier court, to exhibit at these evening games.
The “Night Sessions” have been appearing all over the tennis world for a decade. It took the Parisian tone a long time to adopt this “show” format, and this implementation still makes people shudder. But the straw that broke the camel’s back remains the 9 p.m. curfew announcement, which makes all these games automatically behind closed doors.
When the government announced the health measures in place for the tournament, namely one gauge a day and a closed session starting at 9 p.m., many had advocated an end to these “night sessions” so that these games could be broadcast during the day, with the public . But unfortunately for the audience, Guy Forget and the tournament management did not make this program change to defend that the tournament had “contractual obligations to respect”.
Amazon Prime Video: Sport as salvation?
The only winner in this story is Amazon’s streaming platform. After a difficult start, it seems to be slowly establishing itself in a world already overloaded with broadcasters: that of sport. After acquiring the rights to several Premier League games in England, Amazon has come to the other side of the channel to conquer the most popular sports competitions in France. With the acquisition of this “Lot 2” from Roland-Garros in the period 2021-2023, Amazon continues its development in the world of sports, while other streaming platforms continue to focus on more traditional formats (films, series, documentaries).
Above all else, Amazon is an internet monster with colossal finances that can inject millions of dollars to acquire the rights to any competition. Much criticized, the arrival of Amazon on the edge of the Roland-Garros-Höfe makes happy. Guy Forget, the director of the Paris tournament, explains that this new actor should make it possible to “rejuvenate tennis distribution”. Roland-Garros, suffers from an aging of his audience. A phenomenon that can be experienced to varying degrees everywhere in football, cycling and rugby. “The new generations have new ways to consume and we have to adapt,” acknowledges Guy Forget, an observation shared by big names in the sport like Florentino Perez, President of Real Madrid, at the origin of the stillborn Super League project “.
The Formula 1 counterexample
Perfect example of the wanted by Guy Forget to rejuvenate the audience, the series “Drive to Survive” from Netflix and its influence on Formula 1. While the third season was released a few weeks ago, the series brought a breath of fresh air to Formula 1 and motorsport, which suffered greatly from the aging of its public. Today, Formula 1 achieves audience records almost every race weekend and the video game F1 2020 has established itself on the Twitch platform as one of the most popular games of the last few months.
Guy Forget and the tennis world want to follow suit. The world of tennis is changing between respect for traditions and changed consumer habits. Behind the scenes, the actors move in the shadows to highlight the well-worn earth of the Porte d’Auteuil.