Sky, the pan-European broadcasting giant, has secured rights in six countries on the continent to Premier Padel, the new worldwide tour organized by the International Padel Federation (FIP).
The broadcaster has struck an initial one-year deal to cover the tour – which gets underway next week in Doha, Qatar, and is backed by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) – across the UK, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy.
Sky’s coverage will begin with the 2022 Qatar Major 2022, which is set to begin on March 28, and the deal will see coverage provided by Sky Italia, Sky UK, and Sky Deutschland (across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland).
This news comes the week after major US sports broadcaster ESPN secured a major set of Premier Padel rights, in a four-year arrangement covering close to 50 countries across South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
The two deals, Premier Padel has said, will “elevate the sport to a global audience like never before”, while the tour has stated it will announce further broadcast arrangements in the coming days.
The new competition was launched at the start of February with the backing of QSI and of the Professional Players Association (PPA) as a rival to the World Padel Tour (WPT).
The Premier Padel name and brand identity were unveiled last week.
The tour will feature at least 10 events in both 2022 and 2023. This year, there will be four ‘category 1’ events with prize money of €525,000 ($596,000).
The involved parties have said that the number of tournaments could then ramp up to over 25 a year by 2024.
QSI and the FIP have said that the three other category 1 events will be announced shortly and that there has significant interest from cities across Europe and worldwide in hosting these.
Through their strategic partnership, the FIP and QSI have said they will form a new venture focused on key areas including the international organization of the tour, a new commercial business model (overhauling media, digital, and sponsorship rights revenues), a new global brand for the sport and its tours; sports infrastructure and prize money, and “revolutionizing the long-term commercial success and visibility of the game”.
The FIP has claimed this will be “the only official tour in the sport of paddle” – replacing the WPT – and “the only official tour under the governance and regulation of FIP.”
Not all has gone swimmingly with the launch of the new tour, however.
The WPT has reached to the threat by trying to prevent its athletes from competing in other competitions, such as the new QSI-backed tour, a position which has led the PPA to seek legal action.
The PPA has filed a lawsuit with the European Commission against the professional circuit, which has threatened to fine players up to €500,000 ($569,000) if they play in non-WPT tournaments.