The same, twenty years later, on a whole new stage. The images of the match between the two teenagers champions of the tournament of the Small As of 1999 – they were then 12 years old, and Gasquet had won – appear regularly and free on Internet. But viewers in 2021 will have to tune in to Amazon Prime Video to see, Thursday, June 3, the probable ultimate game of these two players who are now well over their thirties.
→ CONTEXT. Roland-Garros at night time
Richard Gasquet announced that this 18eRoland-Garros was undoubtedly the last. It will therefore be necessary to register on Amazon Prime Video, the distribution site of the online distribution giant, to see this a final lift against the Spaniard, who has long taken his revenge in 1999.
Tournament management pleads sports fairness
This prospect makes some cringe in the tennis world. If, since Monday, May 31, the night appearances in front of empty stands of Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev, the distinguished guests of the first three night session, have hardly made a wave, it is different for this Nadal-Gasquet, who will be missed by the regulars of France Televisions. What would it say if the highlight of the week, King Federer’s increasingly rare arabesques, were invisible for free to viewers?
Tournament director Guy Forget justifies this choice with two arguments. One is athletic. “From a sports fairness point of view, we want each of the top players to be able to play in the evening at 9 p.m. in front of empty stands (due to the curfew)”. The other is clearly economic and contractual. “Nadal-Gasquet is the poster of the day and we are committed to broadcasting it in prime time, especially in France”, he explains, referring to the contract that binds the Federation with Amazon until the 2023 edition.
Shopping and sports broadcasting
In other words, the 15 million euros put on the table by Amazon (this figure, often put forward, has never been denied) are only made profitable by the broadcaster on this condition. The idea for the American group is to capture the public at a time of the day when they can take time to watch a game while still being available to shop in two or three clicks, during side changes for example. “ Consumers don’t subscribe to Amazon Prime just to get access to sports. They subscribe to Amazon Prime for different reasons and then discover the sports offer which is added to all the other benefits ”, explains the European boss of Amazon Prime Video, Alex Green, on the site Sportsmarketing.fr.
→ READ. Roland-Garros limited the damage to the reception of the public
The offer is attractive since the site offers one month of free subscription without commitment (excluding this offer, the price is € 5.99 per month), which will allow the curious to try the adventure and not to continue it. possibly after Roland-Garros. To convince them of the know-how of the Amazon Prime teams, engaged in other sports in Europe (in the German football Bundesliga, in particular), the site has put the package on the quality of realization and the CV of the consultants, Amélie Mauresmo, Marion Bartoli, Arnaud Clément or Fabrice Santoro.
The traditional television model under threat
Since the signing of the contract in 2019, the arrival of Amazon, preferred over Eurosport, which held part of the rights to the 11 o’clock matches (the less interesting), has made waves. Unlike Eurosport, the matches on Amazon (at night or on the Simonne-Mathieu court during the day, for which the American company has also bought the rights) are broadcast exclusively. In other words, outside the scope of France Télévisions cameras and therefore spectators paying only their license fee.
The long-term risk is significant for public television and for all free or pay channels. And it does not only concern tennis, because a new economic model of broadcasting is emerging, with platforms such as Free, Orange, Amazon or Facebook, which are increasingly taking the lead. For tournament organizers, the stakes are high. Roland-Garros represents 80% of the financial resources of the Federation, TV rights contributing to a third of admissions, almost three times more than the ticket office.