NEW YORK, May 12, 2008 —
Largest Annually Attended Sporting Event is Most Recent Component
in Network’s Grand Slam Multimedia Alliance with ESPN, which Also will Include Olympus US Open Series
Tennis Channel to Televise More than 60 Hours of Live US Open Matches, Including
First-Weekend Prime Time, and Daily News and Highlights Beginning in 2009
Fourth Major Completes Network Grand Slam Circle
Tennis Channel, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and ESPN today announced a wide-ranging deal to bring the US Open – the most prestigious annual American tennis event and one of the largest and most important competitions in all of sports – to television audiences via the most on-air hours in history. Under the agreement ESPN and Tennis Channel will share cable and new media tournament rights beginning in 2009, with more than 150 combined live hours and the virtually round-the-clock coverage viewers currently enjoy with the networks’ joint telecasts of other Grand Slams. The US Open deal runs through 2014.
“As the namesake network for our sport, Tennis Channel has done a tremendous job building a world-class multimedia model in a short amount of time,” said Arlen Kantarian, CEO Pro Tennis, USTA. “We’re pleased they’re joining us to prominently feature tennis for eight straight weeks during the “Open Season,” along with ESPN – the premiere destination in sports; and CBS – our longtime network partner. This new arrangement will provide more tennis, to more people, in more ways than ever before, and completes a five-year process of reinventing the television and digital landscape for the sport of tennis in North America.”
“Tennis Channel is proud to now become a long-term partner in one of the greatest spectacles in all of sports,” said Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO, Tennis Channel. “For us, the US Open and the Olympus US Open Series that leads up to it each summer go far beyond sports, as collectively the ‘Open Season’ represents an unprecedented eight weeks of the best mass-appeal content in the world. Our landmark, multiplatform broadcast and marketing partnership with the USTA and ESPN, coupled with CBS’ world-class over-the-air coverage will catapult professional tennis’ already strong audience growth to new heights and create significantly greater awareness in the years to come.”
In 2009, Tennis Channel will carry more than 60 live hours of US Open coverage, including exclusive prime-time match play from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET on the first Saturday and Sunday of the two-week competition. The network will also feature a nightly news and highlights program at 11 p.m. ET, tentatively named US Open Tonight. In the same style as Tennis Channel’s French
Open Tonight and Australian Open Today¸ the show will focus on the best of the day’s action in Flushing Meadows. The all-encompassing program will then repeat throughout the night and early morning. All Tennis Channel US Open programming will be in high definition.
During Tennis Channel’s telecast windows it will stream an additional court to visitors of its Web site, www.tennischannel.com.
“We’re dedicated to telling the yearlong journeys and personal stories of these players 52 weeks a year,” said Victoria Quoss, executive vice president of programming and network strategy, Tennis Channel. “We’re excited to work with ESPN and the USTA to put more tennis than ever on the media platforms where Americans are watching. The feedback we received on the joint coverage between ESPN and Tennis Channel for both the French Open and Australian Open was tremendous.”
During times when Tennis Channel is not televising live US Open matches or nightly highlights, fans can tune into ESPN2 to follow more than 100 hours of live tournament coverage. A typical first-week day of television coverage would be (ET):
11 a.m.-6 p.m. – Tennis Channel live coverage (2 p.m.-6 p.m. from outer courts)
1 p.m.-11 p.m. – ESPN2 live coverage
11 p.m.-12 a.m. – Tennis Channel US Open Tonight
12 a.m.-11 a.m. – Tennis Channel US Open Tonight, encore replays, highlights, previews
As with other Grand Slams, both Tennis Channel and ESPN2 will cross-promote each other’s telecast schedule during the US Open, making it easier for audiences to locate tennis coverage and driving ratings in the process.
A significant component to the US Open arrangement is the Olympus US Open Series, the North American summer hard-court season that leads to the US Open. Tennis Channel has carried close to 100 hours of tournament coverage each summer since the series’ 2004 introduction, and starting this year will bring the Olympus US Open Series to its viewers in high definition. Also beginning with the 2008 Olympus US Open Series, Tennis Channel is producing all tournament matches for ESPN, an arrangement that will continue with today’s agreement. The network also has the rights to replay finals matches from seven Olympus US Open Series competitions covered on ESPN2. ESPN2, at the same time, is adding to its total number of series hours each summer, expanding its coverage to near 100.
With the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, and US Open coverage beginning next summer, Tennis Channel will offer close to 200 live hours of Grand Slam tennis annually. This is in addition to approximately the same amount of first-run time devoted to trademark daily news and highlight shows Australian Open Today, French Open Tonight, Wimbledon Primetime and US Open Tonight. Overall, Tennis Channel will offer a combined 603 hours of television and broadband content during the eight weeks of Grand Slam tennis next year.
The announcement comes during the same week when the independent multimedia network is celebrating the fifth anniversary of its debut on May 15, 2003.
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 the US Open, Wimbledon, Roland Garros (French Open), Australian Open, Olympus 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 DISH Network.
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