HomeNewsIndustry MovesTennisEngland

Eurosport adds new Wimbledon rights as Bolton becomes AELTC’s first female CEO

Centre Court during the Men's Singles final of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships (by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Discovery-owned international sports broadcaster Eurosport has secured rights to Wimbledon in the Czech Republic and Slovakia for the first time as part of a new deal encompassing 11 European markets.

News of the rights agreement coincides with the announcement of the promotion of Sally Bolton to become the first-ever female chief executive of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC), the organisers of the grand slam tournament.

Along with exclusive live rights in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Eurosport’s four-year deal, running from 2020 to 2023, includes renewals in a further nine territories – Belgium, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia and Sweden.

Eurosport broadcast Wimbledon for the first time in 2015 when it acquired the rights in Belgium. Amid a Discovery-led content push, the broadcaster went on in 2016 to pick up non-exclusive live UK rights to the men’s and women’s finals (plus daily highlights) in the UK. Rights were also acquired in markets such as Russia and Ukraine in 2016 before a slew of European countries were then added from 2017 onwards.

The broadcaster also holds ATP Tour rights in France, Russia and the Nordic countries, with future rights secured in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

This year, Eurosport screened over 600 matches and 250 hours of live coverage from Wimbledon in 33 markets with all courts available on Eurosport’s subscription OTT streaming service, Eurosport Player. The new deals will ensure the same coverage in these markets for the next four editions of the Championships.

During 2019, Eurosport reported significant growth in digital viewership for its grand slam coverage, with a 20-per-cent increase in unique views via Eurosport Player, compared to 2018. The average viewing time for grand slam tournaments on the platform was 36 per cent longer, versus last year.

Andrew Georgiou, president of Eurosport, overseeing global sports rights and sports marketing solutions, said: “Recent results show that our multi-screen content strategy is driving video and streaming growth for our tennis coverage, engaging and growing audiences on all platforms and all screens.”

First female CEO

Bolton will succeed current AELTC chief executive, Richard Lewis, following next year’s edition of the tennis grand slam. In a process of planned succession, the AELTC commenced a global search process for the position in September with the support of executive search firm SRI Executive.

Lewis’ departure was announced at that time, with the succession strategy following the handover of the role of AELTC chairman from Philip Brook to Ian Hewitt. Bolton joined the AELTC as head of corporate affairs in 2016.

Taking on the position of strategic planning and operations director in February 2018, Bolton has been part of four Championships at Wimbledon. AELTC said she played a significant role in the acquisition of the Wimbledon Park Golf Club in December 2018, a key part of the Club’s plans to expand its grounds for the Championships.

Bolton has been working in sport since 1996. Having been chief executive of Wigan Warriors rugby league and Orrell rugby union clubs she then delivered numerous events at major stadiums such as Wembley, Old Trafford, Principality Stadium and Murrayfield.

She went on to lead the delivery of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup in England, Wales, France and Ireland. Bolton then spent two years as the managing director of the organising committee for the London 2017 World Athletics Championships, before joining the AELTC.

Hewitt said: “Sally has a well-established pedigree in international event experience across a variety of sports with her background in rugby league, athletics and here at Wimbledon over four Championships.

“Her ability to combine a depth of operational knowledge with quality strategic thinking will make a significant contribution to the future strategy and direction of the AELTC and she will be an excellent leader of our able executive team.”

Bolton added: “We have some fascinating challenges and opportunities ahead of us, and I look forward to working with Richard to achieve a successful transition before he steps down, and with Ian, the Committee and the rest of the executive team to ensure that Wimbledon continues to be regarded as highly as it is today.”