Alliance with Tennis Channel Continues Virtual 24/7 Coverage of Australian and French Opens
ESPN and Tennis Channel have agreed to a new four-year, multimedia programming alliance for the Australian and French Opens. ESPN and TC will continue to air action from both Grand Slam events, but in a key change ESPN’s telecast windows of the French Open will now be virtually all live, generally starting at 5 a.m. ET for five hours. In addition, extensive schedules of action will continue on all ESPN platforms, including ESPN3.com, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Mobile TV, the WatchESPNApp, ESPN Interactive TV and ESPNNetworks.com under the new deal, which takes effect with the 2012 French Open and the 2013 Australian Open.
As under the current arrangement, ESPN will televise more than 50 hours from Paris, starting with the first day of the tournament, a Sunday, and concluding with the women’s semifinals live on the second Thursday of the event. ESPN’s Australian Open schedule – part of an agreement with Tennis Australia that runs through 2021 – will continue to total more than 120 hours with daily marathon late-night live telecasts, including the men’s and women’s semifinals and championships. Having televised the Australian Open – including the women’s and men’s semifinals and finals exclusively – since 1984, this is ESPN’s longest uninterrupted professional sports programming relationship. Also, ESPN3.com will present live action during both ESPN’s and TC’s telecast windows from both events.
“Sports fans want to see the action live and that’s how we deliver tennis and all our sports,” said John Skipper, ESPN executive vice president, content. “Tennis fans are among the most dedicated – willing to stay up or get up to see live competition – and that’s what we will provide for years to come from Melbourne and Paris. In addition, we look forward to continuing our relationship with Tennis Channel to best serve tennis fans at both events.”
At the French Open, Tennis Channel air 60 live hours, following ESPN at 10 a.m., plus studio programming with highlights in prime time. TC will televise up to 100 hours from Australia – approximately 30 hours of live play plus studio shows in prime time.
Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO, Tennis Channel, said, “Not only is there more championship-caliber tennis on television week-after-week than ever before, but consistent, daily schedules allow fans to follow and enjoy this sport in a way that was impossible even just a few years ago. With this arrangement there will be no more guesswork during the Australian Open: just turn your TV on when you get home at 7 o’clock and we’ll be there live, night after night. Tennis fans are the big winners here, as has been the case ever since Tennis Channel and ESPN started working together”
ESPN – All Four Slams, All In One Place
Tennis has been part of ESPN since its first week on the air and provided many memorable moments, but it has never been as important as today, with the US Open joining the lineup in 2009, giving ESPN all four Grand Slam events, something no other U.S. network has ever done, let alone in one year. ESPN has presented the Australian Open since 1984, the French Open since 2002 (plus 1986 – 1993), and Wimbledon since 2003.
ESPN debuted September 7, 1979, and the first tennis telecast was exactly one week later, September 14, a Davis Cup tie, Argentina at U.S. from Memphis with Cliff Drysdale on the call and John McEnroe playing.
Almost all the tennis is found on ESPN2, giving the network the identity as the destination for tennis fans and giving the sport a home that is flexible enough to carry extensive live programming – and adding to the schedule as storylines dictate. In addition, broadband network ESPN3.com, now in nearly 70 million homes, carries thousands of hours of tennis annually, including all four Grand Slam events, plus all ATP 1000 and 500 tournaments, usually with additional, exclusive matches. Also, ESPN Classic shows great matches from the past and the sport receives extensive coverage on SportsCenter, ESPNEWS, Spanish-language ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine.
Tennis Channel (www.tennischannel.com) is the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and tennis lifestyle. 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 World Tour Masters 1000 events, top-tier WTA competitions, Davis Cup and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, and Hyundai Hopman Cup. Tennis Channel is carried by nine of the top 10 MSOs, Verizon FiOS TV, AT&T U-verse, DIRECTV and DISH Network.