LOS ANGELES & ST. PETERSBURG, FLA., January 11, 2006 —
Two-Year Deal Continues Network’s Exclusive U.S. Rights to Singles Finals
and Earlier Action for 14 International Top-Tier Tournaments
The Tennis Channel, the 24-hour multimedia destination dedicated to tennis and the active lifestyle that surrounds it, has signed a two-year programming extension with the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, the governing body of the women’s professional tennis tour. The deal continues the network’s exclusive U.S. telecast rights to 14 international top-tier tournaments each year. Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO, The Tennis Channel; Steve Bellamy, president and founder, The Tennis Channel; and Larry Scott, chairman and CEO, the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, made the announcement today.
The agreement extends The Tennis Channel’s Sony Ericsson WTA Tour programming rights through the 2007 tennis season. Since 2004 the network has carried the championship matches at many of the top-caliber women’s tournaments throughout the year, and in many cases also covered semifinal and quarterfinal matches. These events complement the network’s rights to US Open Series women’s tournaments, which in 2005 included Canada’s Rogers Cup presented by National Bank, also part of this agreement. The 14 tournaments, played in the Far East, Canada, Middle East and Europe, feature the game’s top players in pursuit of some of the sport’s greatest championships. Last year, 13 of the 14 events were won by players currently ranked in the top 10, including Lindsay Davenport, Maria Sharapova and Kim Clijsters.
“This extension with the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour at this time is a critical component of our brand’s current momentum,” said Solomon. “No other professional sport boasts a depth in women’s talent that equals the men’s, so top professional women’s tennis is obviously a vital piece of our business. We look forward to continuing the wide-ranging relationship we enjoy both on the air and off, including joint activities like co-hosting the US Open kickoff party each year.”
“The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour is committed to continuing to expand and enhance the coverage of women’s professional tennis through partnerships with key broadcasters like The Tennis Channel,” said Scott. “The Tennis Channel has been a leader in promoting and raising the profile of women’s tennis in the United States, and we look forward to continuing to bring the world’s leading sport for women to American audiences through this partnership.”
“We’re thrilled that The Tennis Channel will remain the home for sports fans to see the best female athletes in the world compete all year long,” added Bellamy. “These are some of the biggest events in sports, and we’re fortunate to have the best of women’s sports so well-represented on our air.”
The Tennis Channel’s 2006 international Sony Ericsson WTA Tour tournament coverage begins in January, with the Medibank International in Australia and Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. These are followed in February by the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open in the United Arab Emirates.
In May the network follows the tour to Europe for the J&S Cup in Warsaw, Poland; the Qatar Total German Open 2006 in Berlin; and the Campionati Internazionali d’Italia in Rome. Summer brings The Hastings Direct International Championships in Eastbourne, England, in June, and the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in Montreal in August.
One of the most talked about tournaments in tennis is September’s rapidly expanding, state-of-the-art China Open, which The Tennis Channel will again cover in 2006. Then, when tennis returns to Europe for the fall indoor season, so does the network, rounding out its international coverage with five events that determine the final qualifiers at the year-end Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Championships. These are September’s FORTIS Championships Luxembourg in Luxembourg and October’s Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany; Ladies Kremlin Cup in Moscow; Zurich Open in Zurich, Switzerland; and Generali Ladies Linz presented by Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich in Linz, Austria.
A preliminary telecast schedule is available on www.thetennischannel.com and www.wtatour.com.
The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour is the world’s premier professional sport for women with more than 1,400 players representing 75 nations competing for over $60 million in prize money at the Tour’s 63 events in 35 countries. More than four million people attended women’s tennis events in 2005 with millions more watching events on television networks around the world. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season concludes with the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Championships in Madrid, Spain, November 7-12, 2006. Further information on the Tour can be found on the Internet at www.sonyericssonwtatour.com.
The Tennis Channel (www.thetennischannel.com) is the 24-hour multimedia destination dedicated to tennis and the active lifestyle that surrounds it. As the most concentrated single-sport network on television, the brand combines comprehensive sports coverage with health, fitness, pop culture, lifestyle and travel programming. Fifty-two week tournament telecast rights include the US Open Series, ATP Masters Series, top-tier Sony Ericsson WTA Tour championship competitions, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, Fed Cup and Hyundai Hopman Cup, offering compelling coverage of the game’s most dramatic rivalries and energetic personalities.
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