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Emma Raducanu U.S. Open Final Rights Bid Revealed by ITV Chief, But No Speculation on Channel 4

Richard Kendal/RTS

Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV, has revealed that the U.K. commercial public service broadcaster made a bid for rights to British teenager Emma Raducanu’s historic U.S. Open final win.

Speaking at the Royal Television Society convention at Cambridge on Wednesday, McCall said that ITV finally stood down from the bidding war as the company needed to sell enough linear advertising to justify the price. Channel 4 won that particular battle and bought the tennis rights from Amazon Prime Video, with whom they shared the rights.

“We know that it’s a moment of TV – it’s fantastic ratings,” McCall said. “But for us it has to be sustainable, because we have to make the money. We wanted to sell advertising, because that’s our model.”

McCall watched the final, where Raducanu beat Canadian Leylah Fernandez, on Prime.

The hot button topic at the convention is the impending privatization of another U.K. public service broadcaster – Channel 4. Dharshini David, senior correspondent and presenter, BBC News, who interviewed McCall on stage kept up a persistent line of questioning on Channel 4, and if McCall, as the person who in her previous job as CEO of airline EasyJet turned around the fortunes of the company, would be interested in Channel 4.

McCall was diplomatic in her response. “It is up to the government to decide, it’s not up to us to speculate,” McCall said.

David also asked McCall about whether Andrew Neil, who recently quit GB News and Piers Morgan, who famously resigned from his “Good Morning Britain” presenter role following comments on Meghan Markle, would fit into the ITV scheme of things. McCall said that they would end up on a global platform.

Elsewhere, McCall also revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated ITV’s digital transformation. Looking to the future, McCall said, “You’ve got to be nimble, I think you’ve got to constantly be looking at what you’re doing and how you’re doing it… You’ve got to continue to grow.”

Variety's Naman Ramachandran contributed to this post.


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