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Padel, a young sport with a televisual spirit

Though only half a century old, padel has been established on national television and is watched in ten countries. Today, you can enjoy 76 matches per season and 112 hours of live broadcast. This is the story of the emerging relationship between this sport and television platforms.

Padel was born with a televisual spirit. Such an aesthetic and dynamic sport was bound to go hand in hand with audiovisual media.

In fact, it didn’t take long before it made its mark on national and international television.

In little more than 50 years of history, it’s close to becoming a worldwide phenomenon: it is broadcast free-to-air, has its own channel and can be watched on television in ten countries on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition, its impact on social media is close to two million followers.

It’s no coincidence that the first president of the International Federation of Padel was Julio Alegría, owner of the historic Bilbao shop Smith&Smith, where elegance abounded and whose image was a hallmark.

Etched in glass

It all started with the “Glass Palace“.

The first glass padel court was created in Argentina in 1989, which was also able to be disassembled. This enhanced its ability to be moved and significantly increased visibility of the game.

That same year, the company Master Producciones developed one of the most important circuits in the world, with 20 stages per year throughout the country.

The glass court was built in one of the most important Argentine stadiums where more than 5,000 people gathered at each event. Master Producciones was in charge of producing the first live television broadcast of a padel final.

The first glass court didn’t arrive in Spain until 1992, in celebration of the sport’s first World Cup.

Early stages

It was 8tv, Godó Group’s television station, one of the pioneers on a national level that was in charge of broadcasting the Masters Final in Catalonia, an event that brought the eight best pairs in the world together in pursuit of the most prestigious title of the year.

From 18 December 2014 until Sunday 21, viewers of the regional channel enjoyed the best matches of the group stages (Thursday and Friday night), the two live semi-finals (Saturday) and, of course, the grand final on Sunday.

Curiously, that tornament witnessed the farewell of legendary duo Juan and Bela (Juan Martín Díaz and Fernando Belasteguín), considered the best pair in history, after a thirteen-year reign.

National leap

The best padel circuit in the world has been on national television since 1 April 2017, with the Estrella Damm Santander Open.

The broadcast started just before ten in the morning with the women’s semi-final which saw the number one pair in the world, Alejandra Salazar and Marta Marrero, face the newcomers, Ariana Sánchez and Marta Ortega.

The match was broadcast live and free to all of Spain on the Gol channel and was watched by 150,000 spectators. In 2020, the channel offered 152 hours of free broadcast and 45 matches live. Its cumulative average audience has grown by 171%.

Before then, the presence of the World Padel Tour on free-to-air television was limited to a weekly programme on RTVE (Teledeporte) and the finals of the Barcelona, Malaga, Monaco, Dubai, Valencia and Madrid Masters, which have been broadcast live on TDP since 2015.

Today, you can enjoy 76 matches per season and 112 hours of live broadcast. The cumulative audience for 2021 is on track to reach 250,000 viewers.

A dedicated channel

On 27 May 2019, the television channel “Pádel” came to fruition, from LaLigaSports TV. For the first time in this sport’s history, padel has its own channel with specific and exclusive content.

Launching this channel was possible thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Spanish Padel Federation, Padel Televisión and LaLigaSports TV.

This year, the World Padel Tour can be watched on television in ten different countries (Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland) across five television platforms (Nordic Group, Sky Italia, Eurosport, GolTV and ESPN Brasil).

Logically, the long-awaited space on the television grid has also allowed padel to take off. In the last few years, its growth has skyrocketed, and the statistics back it up.

The number of registered players in Spain has risen from 39,700 in 2012 to almost 76,000 by the end of 2019. The equipment business has seen an increase of more than 200%. And the number of courts nationwide, both public and private, currently stands at 1,800 facilities.

Social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, TikTok or Facebook, and platforms such as Youtube or more recently Twitch, have also contributed the profitable feedback cycle.

The most viral moment of 2016 was a moment that took place during the Seville Open World Padel Tour. The stars were the number two pairing in the WPT rankings, Paquito Navarro and Sanyo Gutierrez, versus Franco Stupaczuk and the star of the event, Marcello Jardim. The video reached one million views on the official channel.

One year later, in Granada, Miguel Lamperti, Juani Mieres, Fernando Belasteguín and Pablo Lima were the makers of what is, to date, the most watched moment in the history of the sport on Youtube, reaching 2.5 million views.

As of today, padel has 1,819,520 followers on social media and in a comparison with the LaLiga teams, the WPT occupies tenth position.

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