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How Did Ch4 Win The US Open?

Just how DID channel 4 outsmart the BBC to exclusively air the US Open Final?

The US Open final between Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez recorded a peak total audience of 9.2 million on Channel 4

Emma became the first person to make the final of a tennis Grand Slam after going through the qualifying rounds.

She is also the first person ever to not drop a single set on her path to the final - an extraordinary achievement.

Why Was It So Important for Channel 4 to Win?

Channel 4 outpaced its bigger, larger UK broadcast competitors to secure media rights to the final (reputed 7-figure fee) - in other words, it outsold them all.

OK so that's the headlines but we need to sneak under the covers to gain some further insight as to why this was such an important deal for Channel 4 - the statement below gives us more:

Channel 4 said: “We’ve done this not because it makes a profit but because we want to bring key national events to free-to-air tv. This is exactly the sort of thing that privatisation would put at risk.”

Channel 4 has an agenda of "we're fine as we are thank you" and if you know how to tap into an organisation's agenda, then you're well on your way to creating a winning proposition.

Know Your Deal

In order to win a highly desirable deal like this, you have to understand the agenda of all the individual organisations and people involved in the deal - also known as stakeholders.

Agenda of the Stakeholders

USTA (US Tennis Association) - needed £30m in fees in return for the rights to broadcast the event

  • Won exclusive rights to televise the US Open for £30m.

  • To see the final, Amazon viewers would need to take out a 30-day free trial or sign up to pay the monthly fee of £7.99 (revenue upside, pipeline build)

  • Agenda - build its sports business (awareness/increased market share)

  • Agenda - free to air terrestrial broadcast service

  • Uniquely funded through the UK TV licence fee

  • Argued that a subscription fee to see the final "live" may breach its licence

  • Only able to secure highlights to go out Sunday afternoon (distant 2nd place)

  • Agenda - Publicly funded but actively resisting privatisation from UK Government Ministers

  • Agenda - high profile win reinforces Ch.4 message that all is well and for Gov to "leave it alone"

  • Agenda - the win gives Ch.4 "Bragging rights" - the political capital gained far outweighs the seven-figure fee paid to air the final

  • Agenda - Ch.4 said that speculation the US Open deal was a precursor to Amazon buying Channel 4 was “nonsense”

  • Put out a statement “just in case” as it flatters brand value (and Exec bonuses!)

My Take

The importance of strong partnerships with executive sponsorship is vital in order when you need to make deals like this happen.

A culture of openness and the confidence to reach high up to the Executives in your organisation is vital if you’re going to outwit and outmanoeuvre your competition for prestigious, time-sensitive outcomes.

Remember Peter Drucker's expression:

"Culture eats strategy for Breakfast

Need help with a "must win" deal?

Contact us here

Have a marvel-lous weekend!

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