ESPN Inc. has signed a six-year agreement with the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) to carry live coverage of its events across ESPN’s multiple platforms. The deal solidifies ESPN3, ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, as the premier destination for every major global tennis event on the men’s and women’s circuit in the US.
“This new agreement with the WTA says a lot about the power of ESPN’s multi-platform scale and its ability to serve passionate tennis fans,” said Jason Bernstein, senior director of programming and acquisitions, ESPN. “We have a long history with professional tennis in our 32 years, and now we are slated to carry all the top-tier tennis events from around the world across our networks.”
“With simultaneous matches and global events held year round, ESPN3 is an ideal platform for tennis,” said Damon Phillips, vice president, ESPN3. “Fans have come to know the network as a leading destination for live tennis, including outer court and exclusive coverage. Now with the WTA through 2016, ESPN3 is the year-round destination for tennis fans in the US.”
”ESPN has long served tennis fans in the US, and we are pleased to continue to partner with them to deliver enhanced coverage of world class women’s tennis across ESPN’s multiple platforms,” said Stacey Allaster, CEO of the WTA.
The deal includes rights to season-long WTA matches as well as the following events:
- TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships: Championships singles final from Istanbul on ESPN2 and ESPN3, with round robin and semifinals coverage on ESPN3.
- WTA Premier Events: Live coverage of more than 70 matches from 11 events on ESPN3, including early round matches and select quarterfinals between January-October annually.
Coverage begins today with the TEB-BNP Paribas WTA Championships live from Istanbul. ESPN3’s live coverage will feature select round robin matches, both semifinals and the final on Sunday, October 30, at 11 a.m. ET. ESPN2 will provide television coverage of the final at 1 p.m. Players featured in the Championship include top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, Li Na, Vera Zvonareva, Samantha Stosur and Agnieszka Radwanska.
The WTA is the governing body of the global circuit of women’s professional tennis events (with the exception of the Grand Slams and Fed Cup) and features the top-ranked women’s players in the world. This year marks the 41st edition of the Championships. The Championships consists of the top eight singles players and top four doubles teams, competing for $5 million in prize money and the year-end No. 1 rankings.
With today’s deal, ESPN3 adds 150 live hours of women’s tennis each year to its programming slate. The network now carries all four Grand Slam tournaments, all ATP World Tour 500 and ATP Masters 1000 events – including Indian Wells and Miami – the WTA Premier events, and the season-ending championships of both tours – the TEB-BNP Paribas WTA Championships and Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. In 2011, tennis on ESPN3 accounted for over 2,750 live hours, including more than 2,200 exclusive hours.
ESPN’s 2011 tennis schedule of more than 585 televised hours is highlighted by all four Grand Slam events, something no other U.S. network has ever done. One week after ESPN’s debut on September 7, 1979, ESPN carried its first tennis telecast with a Davis Cup tie, Argentina at US from Memphis with Cliff Drysdale on the call and John McEnroe playing. ESPN has presented the Australian Open since 1984, the French Open since 2002 (plus 1986 – 1993), Wimbledon since 2003 and the US Open since 2009.
ESPN3 is ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, a 24/7 destination that delivers thousands of global sports events annually and accessible online via WatchESPN.com. It is currently available to approximately 70 million homes at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated service provider. The network is also available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers connected to on-campus educational networks and on-base military networks. It is also accessible through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app through an affiliated provider.
About WTA (Women’s Tennis Association)
The WTA is the global leader in women’s professional sport with more than 2,400 players representing 99 nations competing for more than $90 million in prize money at the WTA’s 53 events and four Grand Slams in 33 countries. More than 5 million people attended women’s tennis events in 2010 with tens of millions more watching on television and digital channels around the world. The WTA competitive season concludes with the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, from October 25-30, and the Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions in Bali, Indonesia, from November 3-6. Further information on the WTA can be found on www.wtatennis.com.