LOS ANGELES, April 16, 2007 —
Top U.S. Satellite Provider to Give all Customers ‘Sneak Peek’ of Network’s Complete French Open Coverage in May, including DIRECTV’s French Open Interactive Enhancements Featuring Multi-Screen, Multi-Court ‘French Open Mix Channel’
The Network will be Available This Summer; Will launch in High-Definition in December 2007
Tennis Channel, the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and passionate lifestyle of tennis, and DIRECTV, Inc., the nation’s leading satellite television provider, today announced a multi-year distribution agreement that begins with a “Sneak Peek” of the French Open, May 27 to June 10, followed by the launch of Tennis Channel later this summer.
The free “Sneak Peek,” available to 16 million DIRECTV customers, will offer the Tennis Channel’s comprehensive coverage of the tournament, with more than 100 hours from the most prestigious clay-court competition in the world and one of tennis’ four Grand Slam events. This includes live, daily coverage from 5 a.m. to noon ET, and a prime-time program each evening, French Open Tonight, that will feature highlights, the best of the day’s tennis events, previously unseen matches, and other original features and coverage from in and around the streets of Paris.
As part of the Sneak Peek, DIRECTV will offer French Open Interactive, providing viewers expanded coverage and features, such as the French Open Mix Channel, designed to enhance tennis fans’ enjoyment of the game.
Tennis Channel is also announcing the pending launch of a second, high-definition network. In December 2007, DIRECTV will make the network available in HD to its viewers. This will mark the first time fans anywhere will be able to watch Tennis Channel in HD.
“This is a landmark day for our network, and a direct result of the major rights acquisitions, strategic partnerships and other distribution deals we’ve engineered in recent months,” said Solomon. “Now tennis is able to take its rightful place next to the other great sports in DIRECTV’s incredible lineup and fans who are passionate about the game and its lifestyle will have the chance to enjoy the sport like never before, including in high-definition. We’re thrilled to partner with them and for the opportunity to put the French Open, one of the crown jewels of sports, in front of DIRECTV customers, virtually doubling our distribution overnight.”
Like its fellow Grand Slam tournaments, the French Open features multiple simultaneous matches, given the 128-player singles fields, on top of doubles competition, for both men and women. To cover all the action, DIRECTV’s French Open Mix Channel, available from May 27 to June 3, will feature Tennis Channel’s primary feed and five additional feeds, or Court Channels, with English-language commentary. Viewers will be able to watch six matches simultaneously and viewers with interactive receivers can highlight each match to hear live audio and select any Court Channel for full screen viewing. DIRECTV customers will have access to up to 300 hours and more than 100 additional matches of Tennis Channel’s French Open coverage.
In addition to the expanded coverage, viewers will have access to results from the current and previous day’s play, along with real-time updates of live matches. Another interactive feature provides detailed information about upcoming matches on each of the Court Channels.
“With matches on multiple courts at the same time, we can offer tennis fans the ultimate viewing experience through five additional Court Channels and the Mix Channel, our gateway to Tennis Channel’s French Open coverage,” said Eric Shanks, executive vice president, DIRECTV Entertainment. “DIRECTV’s interactive technology has dramatically changed the way sports are viewed on TV and features like the Mix Channels have been especially popular with tennis fans, who want to follow their favorite players wherever and whenever they’re playing on the courts.”
When DIRECTV launches Tennis Channel this summer, the network will be available on a base programming package with in excess of 8 million customers.
“Tennis Channel's new agreement with DIRECTV is a win for fans and a win for the sport," said Arlen Kantarian, chief executive, professional tennis, USTA. “In today's sports television world, it’s critical to have a successful namesake network, and the added distribution through the millions of DIRECTV households further advances the goals of Tennis Channel and the entire sport of tennis in the United States.”
Tennis Channel is the most concentrated single-sport network in television, with more than 60 tournaments annually, including year-round telecasts throughout the season. The network’s catalog of original series and specials includes player interviews, tournament behind-the-scenes, superstar “days in the life,” real-life tennis friendships, tennis vacations and hundreds of hours of exclusive documentary programming.
The DIRECTV partnership represents the culmination of a number of milestones for Tennis Channel in recent months. In August, the network reached a multi-year, multimedia deal to cover the French Open, its first-ever Grand Slam distribution rights. In December the USTA, the largest tennis organization in the world and one of American sports’ oldest and most prestigious governing bodies, made a significant financial investment in the network, taking on an active role in its ongoing direction in the process. In January Tennis Channel announced a long-term multimedia alliance with ESPN, pairing with the network to create round-the-clock, joint-network coverage and cross-promotion of both the French Open and Australian Open.
DIRECTV, Inc., the nation’s leading satellite television service provider, presents the finest television experience available to more than 16 million customers in the United States, through exclusive content, industry-leading customer satisfaction (which has surpassed cable for six years running) and superior technologies. Each day, DIRECTV subscribers enjoy access to over 250 channels of 100% digital picture and sound, exclusive programming and the most comprehensive collection of sports programming available anywhere, including NFL SUNDAY TICKET™ and MLB EXTRA INNINGS®. DIRECTV (NYSE:DTV) also leads the digital television technology revolution with exclusives such as NFL SUNDAY TICKET SuperFan™, US Open Interactive and YES Network Interactive and will soon have the capacity to offer over 150 channels in HD. For the most up-to-date information on DIRECTV, please visit directv.com.
Tennis Channel (www.thetennischannel.com) is the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and passionate lifestyle of tennis. A hybrid of comprehensive sports, health, fitness, pop culture, entertainment, lifestyle and travel programming, the network is home to every aspect of the wide-ranging, worldwide tennis community. It also has the most concentrated single-sport coverage in television, with telecast rights to Roland-Garros (the French Open), the Australian Open, US Open Series, ATP Masters Series, top-tier Sony Ericsson WTA Tour championship competitions, Davis Cup and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, and Hyundai Hopman Cup. Tennis Channel is carried by eight of the top 10 MSOs and has a national footprint via DIRECTV and Echostar’s DISH Network.
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