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ESPN's Historic Deal

ESPN's Historic Deal

Since '68, CBS has broadcast the US Open. That'll change in '15, thanks to a deal signed this month by the US Tennis Association and ESPN, which gains exclusive rights for 11 years. Covington's Doug Gibson--who reps a mountain of acronyms:MLB,NBA, NFL, NHL,andUFC(plus the LA Dodgers)--led a team representing the USTA.

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The deal came together in aweek or two, says Doug. "It was busy, it wasall-encompassing." (It began after a period of exclusivity and negotiation with CBS ended.) The companies didn't publicly disclose a figure, but it's been reported around$770M to $825M. Longer rights deals are becoming typical in the industry, Doug says, with 10 years the norm, or even up to 40 with renewal terms; a still-outstanding deal he negotiated between the Dodgers and Warner Cable could go for25 years. Associate Stephanie Bignon helped out on the USTA deal, and Doug tells us he regularlycollaborates in the corporate arena with Peter Zern, Bruce Wilson, and Scott Roades, and a whole team dedicated to sports, including Gregg Levy, Ben Block, and Jeremy Spector.Doug and Gregg advised the NFL on an ESPN deal in '11:$15 billionfor eight years.

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Doug also spent two yearsasBacardi GC--notice the mini bottle on the bottom left--overseeing the buy of Dewar's Scotch and Bombay Gin. Hegot his startinsports and spiritsat Covington in '90, working under two partners in those industries--Steve WallmanandBarry Kabalkin(who's now Bacardi vice-chair). Non-sports clients include Armani and Benetton. Covington has long ties to the NFL: former commissionerPaul Tagliabueis at the firm, and current NFL GCJeff Pashis a former partner.That can work in Doug's favor,like when he took his son to theSuper Bowla couple years ago. When it comes to his personal sports fandom, though, Doug grew up in Pittsburgh and says he still supports those teams, "everything from the good to the bad."