FFT brings in HBS as French Open production goes in-house from 2021
By Simon Ward
The FFT, the French tennis federation, has appointed HBS France Production, an arm of Host Broadcast Services, the international television production specialist, to support its new in-house operation for the French Open starting in 2021.
HBS is a subsidiary of Infront, the international sports marketing agency owned by China’s Wanda Sports Group.
The FFT said today that, following a competitive tender, HBS France Production had been chosen as the host broadcasting partner for the grand slam held at Roland Garros in Paris, for the next three-year cycle.
The move comes after the federation decided to take production services in-house with effect from next year, taking on the role presently carried out by public-service network France Télévisions, which will continue to televise the event.
The FFT, together with HBS France Production, will be responsible for providing TV coverage of the French Open in some 150 countries worldwide from 2021 to 2023.
In a statement, the federation said it “aims to meet the expectations and demands for quality for the world’s broadcasters by producing content tailored to their needs and to those of viewers. The FFT is also looking to continue innovating.”
The tender for a host broadcaster was launched in December, with the FFT setting a deadline of 15 January for offers to be received.
UK-based Input Media, now rebranded under the Gravity Media name, has been a production partner of the FFT since 2008, with responsibility for a world feed, daily highlights and digital content.
The new host broadcasting arrangements for 2021 coincide with new rights deals in France, with Amazon, the online retail giant, replacing Eurosport France, an arm of the pan-European sports broadcaster, alongside France Télévisions, in three-year deals thought to be worth at least €30 million ($32.9 million) per year.
France Télévisions bought Lot 1, which includes all matches except for those played on Simonne-Mathieu, the new court that opened in 2019, and the evening sessions, while Amazon landed Lot 2, giving it access to all matches played on Simonne-Mathieu and the evening sessions.
Semi-finals and the finals will be co-broadcast.
This year’s French Open takes place from 24 May to 7 June.