BBC portfolio cut as ITV takes French Open

 

It never rains but it pours for poor old Auntie. Just a month after the Royal & Ancient Golf Club warned the BBC that its dwindling interest in golf could threaten its hold on future television coverage of The Open, ITV will rip another plank from the corporation's platform as a holder of major sports rights with more than 150 hours of coverage of the French Open tennis tournament.

Although the BBC's commitment to the year's second Grand Slam event sometimes appeared half-hearted, with much of the coverage available only via the red button, the loss is significant in that it demonstrates ITV's determination to challenge for a broad range of sports rights.

The French Open, which starts on 27 May, will mark ITV's debut at a Grand Slam tennis tournament. The desire to make a major impact was emphasised at yesterday's launch of its coverage. John Inverdale will be the anchor man for the on-screen ITV team, which will also feature Jim Courier, who won the French Open twice and is now the United States Davis Cup captain, Mark Petchey, Sam Smith, Fabrice Santoro, Nick Mullins and Celina Hinchcliffe. The team will operate from a specially constructed studio at Roland Garros.

While football remains at the heart of ITV's sporting empire – its portfolio includes the Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup, England internationals, European Championship and World Cup – it has also bought the rights to a number of other major events. ITV has the 2015 Rugby World Cup, IPL cricket and cycling's Tour de France and Tour of Spain.

Niall Sloane, ITV's director of sport, said the three-year deal for the French Open brought "another important dimension to our sports portfolio". He added: "When we looked at it initially, the drive was to get more really credible sport on to ITV1 and indeed on to ITV4. We had done the Tour de France, which worked well in that respect."

The French Open will be shown on ITV1 at the weekend, with ITV4 taking over in midweek. "I think it's good news for tennis fans," Sloane said. "We have a fantastic amount of tennis coverage – more than 150 hours of live TV, which is a lot more than has ever been shown on free-to-air television before."

Sloane thought viewing figures for the tournament might approach what ITV would expect from coverage of Europa League football next season. "When we have Newcastle or Spurs or whoever, we would expect really significant audiences of, I would say, three or three and a half million on ITV4. I think it would probably need Andy Murray to be really flying in the second week to reach those kind of audiences on ITV4."

Although the BBC has just extended its deal with Wimbledon until 2017, ITV might see the French Open as the start of a major push into tennis. "I think we'll look at that at the end of the summer when we've seen how well the French Open did," Sloane said. "I'm confident it will do extremely well."

Bleeding Beeb: Sport the BBC has lost

Cricket England Test Matches – lost rights to Channel 4 in 1999.

World Rally Championship Lost rights to Channel 4 in 2001.

Boat Race Lost rights in 2004, regained in 2010.

Football FA Cup and England home internationals – lost in 2008 to ITV.

Rugby union Anglo-Welsh Cup – lost rights in 2009 to Sky.

Cricket The Ashes – lost rights to show highlights of 2010-11 series.

Athletics Lost the 2011 and 2013 World Championships to Channel 4 (BBC has rights for 2015 and 2017).

Formula One Reduced from this season to just 10 races, Sky will show full calendar.

Golf Masters – last year lost rights to all four days to Sky, but still hold rights to the final two days.

Tennis French Open – to be broadcast on ITV from this year.

Horse Racing Grand National – will be shown on Channel 4 from next year.

Suggested Topics
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...