Roland Garros signed a contract with Amazon last year. The US streaming service pays tens of millions and mandates that ten games be played late in the evening, when the average American gets home from work.
In the modern world of sports, built on commercial grounds, the match between Nadal and Djokovic is no exception. Tennis player Alexander Zverev complained earlier this month after being on the court until 4.54 a.m. in Acapulco, Mexico.
In other sports as well, athletes, spectators, volunteers and other attendees have to go to bed at times that are unfavorable to serve television viewers. Just think of the Formula 1 races in Asia that finish late in the evening, but have a decent amount of time for European and American TV viewers. Or football matches that start at increasingly unpleasant times for stadium visitors.
“Trade determines the time to play”
“It’s true that it gets crazier with the times you exercise,” says Bob Van Oosterhout, sports marketer at Triple Double. “There has been tension about this for years between trade on the one hand and sporting interests on the other. The health and fitness of the players always comes first, but the trade also determines when the games are played.”
In Europe, people grumble when Nadal and Djokovic are on the right track even after midnight, but trade in the US has a lot more power than it is here. “Look at the NBA: They always plan four games there on Christmas Eve. You’re sitting on the sofa with your horrible mother-in-law and that crazy aunt and happy to have the sport on TV,” Van Oosterhout says.
“The same goes for American football on Thanksgiving. Both are very popular, and tens of millions of people watch those days every year.”
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