Warner Bros. Discovery Scores French Open Broadcast Rights

After likely losing NBA rights, Warner Bros. Discovery scooped up the US broadcast rights to the French Open.

Photo of the French Open at Stade Roland-Garros
Photo by Passion Leica via CC BY-SA 2.0

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The game is back to deuce. 

First, Comcast’s NBC nabbed Warner Bros. Discovery’s long-held NBA rights (though the deal is still technically not finalized). Now, according to a CNBC report on Tuesday, WBD hit back, signing away NBC’s US broadcast rights to the French Open in a decade-long deal.

French Pressed

In the age of streaming, social media, and the subsequent rapid decline of the media landscape that came before, live sports rights remain literal gold. It’s why the NBA, despite a mild case of flagging ratings, is on the verge of signing a new batch of media rights deals worth around $76 billion over the next decade — good for almost three times as much annual revenue as it had seen on its current deals.

It’s also why NBC elbowed its way into NBA rights after being sidelined for the past two decades. While not final just yet, all reporting and indications are that NBC has secured the NBA package long-aired on WBD’s TNT, outbidding the incumbent with a $2.5 billion per season deal.

WBD, still buried under some $40 billion of debt, may yet secure a skinnier NBA package, too. But the firm seems to know it air-balled — and has focused its efforts on finding ways to rebound:

  • WBD already had the French Open broadcast rights in 55 international markets, but will now air in the US in a ten-year deal worth $65 million annually, sources told CNBC.
  • In May, WBD struck a five-year sublicensing deal with Disney’s ESPN for a share of College Football Playoff games. The two firms, along with Fox, are also launching a streaming joint venture called Venu Sports this Fall, which will include all three companies’ live sports broadcasts.

Flagrant Foul: In 2022, WBD CEO David Zaslav infamously remarked “We don’t have to have the NBA.” Now he may eat his words. The comment may have irked the league office. And, worse, per a recent Variety report, the NBA has grown frustrated with how Zaslav has cut costs for Warner’s sports division. Fortunately for Zaslav, the French, it seems, have a little more tolerance for both frugality and snootiness.