HomeExclusiveTake ownership of your own success: Craig Tiley takes us inside the Australian Open’s global rise By Lachlan Wills

Take ownership of your own success: Craig Tiley takes us inside the Australian Open’s global rise By Lachlan Wills

Take ownership of your own success: Craig Tiley takes us inside the Australian Open’s global rise By Lachlan Wills

Australian Open Boss Craig Tiley says being “Master of your own destiny” is crucial to success, with the Aussie Grand Slam now a world leader.

The 2023 AO broke the all-time world tennis attendance record, with 840,000 spectators across two weeks.

The 2023 US Open, in a country of 330 million people, recorded a personal best of 800,000.

While the most recent Wimbledon and French Opens saw 530,000 and 630,000 fans, respectively.

Tiley became CEO in 2013, and instigated a new approach that prioritised Tennis Australia owning its own assets and properties around the AO.

The media rights, sponsorship deal-making and merchandising were all brought in-house.

“We had exclusive arrangements with agencies that were selling our rights. We had production that was sitting on the outside, an international feed that was very generic,” Tiley told The Ministry of Sport Podcast.

“We wanted our brand and our message to be ours, and so I hired the right people at that time to bring it all in-house.”

Tiley says when he first started working on the AO- initially in player development, then as tournament director, he recognised “there’s things that need to happen”.

“And being the master of your own destiny is one of the key things, because if something goes wrong, you want to be able to point the finger at yourself, so that you can correct it and do better.”

During Tiley’s decade as CEO, media rights and sponsorship revenue has tripled, and attendance revenue has more than doubled.

Tennis Australia’s new TV deal with Nine is worth $425 million, from 2025-2029. That’s $125 million more than the existing deal.

In 2014, Seven signed a deal to pay $35 million a year, now Nine will pay $85 million per year.

Tiley says he did have some doubts about his approach, but stuck firm to his belief.

“At the time you think, is this the right thing to do or not, but I went with the principle from the beginning, that I want to be held accountable end-to-end for the growth of our product, and our offering to our consumer, and the offering to the tennis player.”

Tiley says they’re only just beginning.

“This is tracking towards being a billion dollar company, it’s very global in its reach, we’ve got offices based around the world.

“We are starting to deliver other events (such as the Laver Cup), to have ownership of other things, diversifying our revenue, having a venture capital fund, investing in other businesses that we can be a great testing platform for, so it’s becoming much broader and more diverse.

“The challenge moving forward is going to be prioritising what gives us the best return, and I think that’s going to be our next iteration of what’s needed in capability.

“I’ve enjoyed that growth, and from my perspective I don’t think its gone fast enough, but I’ve always been that way as far as pushing the boundaries on it, but I think the organisation has done a great job.”

To hear more of Craig Tiley’s insights into the future of tennis, the vital role of women in sport, the next sports tech revolution, and how the AO has become the world leader, you can listen to The Ministry of Sport Podcast.


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