LOS ANGELES, July 16, 2007 —
Oldest of Tennis’ Grand Slams will be Third of the Four on Fast-Growing Network,
Joining French Open, Australian Open Slam Lineup Next Year
Tennis Channel today announced a wide-ranging, multi-year deal that in 2008 gives the network telecast rights to Wimbledon, the oldest of the sport’s four “Grand Slams,” the most prestigious events in tennis, and the third of these to be covered by the channel. The agreement adds the annual London classic championship to the network’s 52-week tournament lineup that already includes Roland Garros (commonly referred to as the French Open) and Australian Open Grand Slams, in addition to 46 of the other top 50 worldwide competitions. Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO, Tennis Channel, made the announcement today.
The broadcast partnership with the tournament’s governing All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club will bring well in excess of 100 hours of Wimbledon-dedicated programming to Tennis Channel during next summer’s two-week event and in the weeks leading up to The Championships. Beyond access to the tournament’s vast library of classic matches and other historic video, the network will bring viewers nightly, prime-time coverage through Wimbledon After Dark, a four-hour program that will immerse viewers in the unparalleled Wimbledon experience.
Tennis Channel will produce all matches it covers at Wimbledon, utilizing the network’s own on-air talent at the tournament grounds. Additionally, the network will use the same multi-platform focus it employed during its first Grand Slam, May’s French Open, allowing tennis fans to access Wimbledon content through its Web site.
“The word ‘Wimbledon’ evokes an almost magical connotation, not just with tennis aficionados, but with sports and casual fans the world over,” said Solomon. “They say great things come in threes, and to add Wimbledon to our Grand Slam lineup along with the French Open and Australian Open – plus the majority of the world’s other top tournaments – is a milestone for both Tennis Channel’s viewers and in our network’s rapid forward expansion. We’re honored and excited to build on our significant, groundbreaking success with the recent French Open, and are honored in making The All England Club’s Championships at Wimbledon yet another Grand Slam tennis experience available to American audiences in ways it hasn’t been, both extensively in prime time and through newer digital media platforms.”
Wimbledon After Dark is slated to follow the pattern of the network’s French Open Tonight, which brought U.S. television audiences a landmark, immersive, prime-time Grand Slam experience and the essence of the epic event and host city into their living rooms each evening. The four-hour show will recap the battles of the day, provide previously unseen matches, offer inside analysis with players and other tennis guests, and showcase the excitement, culture and history that tie the tournament to its London location, and vice versa.
Tennis Channel’s Wimbledon coverage is another building block in its effort to help grow the game of tennis through an integrated distribution chain of networks. As with the channel’s telecast partnerships during the coverage of the French Open, US Open Series, Davis Cup and, in January 2008, the Australian Open, the potential of year-long, co-branded promotion is targeted to elevate not only all other distribution partners, but the events being covered, the sport and the tennis experience of U.S. television audiences overall.
Often listed alongside the Olympics, Super Bowl, World Series, Masters at Augusta and other elite championships that embody the crowning achievements of their particular sports, Wimbledon conjures images of timeless accomplishment throughout the ages. Seen through sepia Victorian stills from its 1877 outset or the crisp, multi-angle broadcasts on high-definition plasma screens today, the mandatory tennis whites, inimitable grass courts, strawberries and cream, and scoreboard references to “gentlemen’s” and “ladies’” tournament fields continue to frame a tennis tradition that’s impact has not changed, but only grown with time. It has been the ultimate stage, launching pad and proving ground for the game’s giants – Laver, King, Connors, Evert, Navratilova, Borg, McEnroe, Graf, Agassi, Sampras, Federer – and remains the pinnacle of dreams for young tennis players the world over.
U.S. television ratings for both the men’s and women’s Wimbledon singles finals two weekends ago were higher than in 2006, by more than 10 percent in the men’s championship; 27 percent in the women’s.
Tennis Channel (www.tennischannel.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 Wimbledon, 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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