LOS ANGELES, March 10, 2004 —
The Tennis Channel, a 24-hour cable television network devoted to tennis and other racquet sports, has signed a four-year extension for the exclusive U.S. telecast rights to five of the 10 tennis tournaments in the ATP Masters Series, the jewel of the men's tennis season. The joint announcement was made today by Steve Bellamy, president and founder, The Tennis Channel, and Mark Webster, managing director, Tennis Properties Limited - the television arm of the ATP Masters Series and Tennis Masters Cup.
The network will telecast the five European events of the ATP Masters Series - Monte Carlo, Monaco; Rome; Hamburg, Germany; Madrid, Spain; and Paris - live and in their entirety, and will provide early-round coverage of the ATP Masters Series' U.S.-based events in Indian Wells, Calif., and Miami. Additionally, this year The Tennis Channel will cap its ATP Masters Series telecasts with complete, live doubles coverage of the series' finale, the Tennis Masters Cup in Houston in November. The agreement begins this year and runs through 2007, and builds on The Tennis Channel's previous licensing relationship with the ATP Masters Series which saw the network telecast the European ATP Masters Series tournaments and the doubles championship at the Tennis Masters Cup.
"This agreement is great for tennis, tennis fans, the ATP Masters Series and The Tennis Channel viewers," said Bellamy. "For viewers and fans, we will be bringing these tournaments on live and in their entirety, about 10 hours a day. For the sport, this extension continues our ability to provide the most comprehensive tennis coverage on television."
The ATP Masters Series is the highest level of competition on the ATP tour. With more prize money and Indesit Champions Race points on offer than at any other ATP events, the ATP Masters Series features all of the world's leading players battling for a spot in the top eight and qualification for the season's grand finale, the Tennis Masters Cup.
"This is good news for tennis fans. Through The Tennis Channel's comprehensive coverage of these events, which American audiences would not otherwise see, the ATP Masters Series is going to reach more people than ever before," said Webster. On Saturday, March 13, The Tennis Channel will cover 12 hours of live tournament action from the Series' opening event, the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, Calif., which features a combined field of both men and women. The network's first "Super Saturday" telecast will present a number of the 250 best male and female players in this year's competition. This could include last year's men's singles champion Lleyton Hewitt, or his fiancée Kim Clijsters, the 2003 singles winner on the women's side.
The next "Super Saturday" on The Tennis Channel's calendar takes place March 27 in Miami, at the NASDAQ-100 Open, the other ATP Masters Series tournament with a combined field. Again the network will be live for 12 hours of tournament play, where Andre Agassi and Serena Williams (scheduled to return from her injury hiatus) look to defend their 2003 singles titles.
The Tennis Channel will be live at the Masters Series Monte-Carlo, with comprehensive coverage. The network's exclusive U.S. telecasts will bring the first European ATP Masters Series event stateside April 19-25. Last year Juan Carlos Ferrero took home the tournament's top prize, defeating Guillermo Coria in the process.
The Telecom Italia Masters in Rome gets underway in early May. The Tennis Channel will be in the Eternal City for live coverage throughout the week, May 3-9. In 2003 Felix Mantilla upset Roger Federer in the championship, becoming the first unseeded player to win the tournament in Rome since 1963.
The 2003 Masters Series Hamburg brought Guillermo Coria his first Masters Shield trophy. This year The Tennis Channel will be the exclusive U.S. home for live coverage from Hamburg, Germany, throughout the week, May 10-16.
Juan Carlos Ferrero also found success last year at the Masters Series Madrid. The Tennis Channel will telecast live from Madrid, Spain, this year Oct. 18-24.
The network's European ATP Masters Series coverage will conclude with BNP Paribas Masters in Paris, Nov. 1-7, where in 2003, Tim Henman captured his first ATP Masters Series title.
The Tennis Channel will finish the year in Houston at the Tennis Masters Cup, with live doubles play throughout the week, Nov. 15-20.
The Tennis Channel ( www.thetennischannel.com ) is the 24-hour cable television network devoted to tennis and other racquet sports, and provides unparalleled coverage of the game, its elite championships and its superstar athletes. The network's comprehensive coverage includes telecasts of the ATP Masters Series, top-tier WTA Tour championship competitions, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, Fed Cup and Hyundai Hopman Cup. The Tennis Channel also showcases instruction from the finest teachers, legendary matches, in-depth profiles of the greatest players, analysis and news, the latest on equipment, and tennis getaways.