TENNIS CHANNEL AND WOMEN’S TENNIS ASSOCIATION FORM U.S. TELEVISION AND DIGITAL MEDIA PARTNERSHIP
Tennis Channel will be the U.S. television and digital media hub for the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) beginning in January 2019 after signing a five-year contract. More than 2,000 matches will be available for viewing including the tour championship, Premier and International tournaments, as well as the WTA Finals, all running January through October. The Sports Techie community blog represents female tennis players, coaches and fans, providers and sponsors worldwide. Tennis is sports tech ready to compete for young viewers in the United States after this wide-ranging business agreement.
The partnership provides Tennis Channel live, over-the-top (OTT) streaming rights and authenticated digital streams to these events. Tennis fans nationwide can now subscribe directly to the network’s Tennis Channel Plus streaming service to view WTA matches not showing on television. TV subscribers can use Tennis Channel on the go using mobile and out-of-home devices.
Micky Lawler, WTA President, stated, “The WTA is pleased to partner with Tennis Channel in showcasing women’s tennis and its world class athletes to our dedicated and passionate US fans. We look forward to growing the WTA with the Tennis Channel across US households through unified broadcast, streaming and media platforms. The WTA continues to work hand in hand with beIN Sport as they are a valued partner and fantastic stewards of the sport, serving as one of our largest rightsholders across the globe.”
The Tennis Channel is the former home to these tournaments ever since they launched in 2003 and ending in 2016. This new deal supplements the network’s current schedule of the four Grand Slams, Indian Wells, Calif.; Miami, Charleston, S.C.; Cincinnati; Fed Cup and other events. Week-after-week women’s matches will be cross-programmed across Tennis Channel’s multiple channel platforms, showcasing the best tennis players in the world in seamless concert and balance with the network’s yearlong ATP men’s and other coverage. Tennis Channel’s everyday lineup will again mirror an order-of-play sheet at any of the sport’s four Grand Slams, dynamically following all the tennis action across the globe versus just around the grounds.
In addition to matches on Tennis Channel’s OTT service Tennis Channel Plus, the network plans to fully integrate the WTA brand across all aspects of its content production and various platforms. This includes WTA events, players and other tour content prominently featured in original series, specials, documentary films, short-form programming, social media series, daily news, and more. Beyond Tennis Channel’s television channel, app and OTT product, the network’s portfolio includes website www.tennis.com and Tennis magazine, the sport’s largest digital and print platforms, respectively, along with the youth-oriented Baseline digital service. Through its parent company, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Tennis Channel also provides the WTA with the opportunity to reach nearly 200 stations around the country.
Tennis Channel (www.tennischannel.com), is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group and offers 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 at the US Open, Wimbledon, Roland Garros (French Open), Australian Open, ATP World Tour events, WTA competitions, Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Hopman Cup. Tennis Channel is carried by nine of the top 10 video providers.
The WTA is the global leader in women’s professional sport with more than 2,500 players representing nearly 100 nations competing for a record $146 million in prize money. The 2018 WTA competitive season includes 54 events and four Grand Slams in 30 countries. In 2017, the WTA was watched around the world by a total TV audience of 500 million. The 2018 WTA competitive season concludes with the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global from October 21-28, 2018 and the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, China from October 30-November 4, 2018. Further information on the WTA can be found at www.wtatennis.com.
DAZN Group and beIn Sports
The WTA and its media-rights partner DAZN Group (formerly Perform Group) conducted this business transaction with current worldwide rightsholder beIN Sport to facilitate January’s U.S.-rights handoff to Tennis Channel. As one of the WTA’s largest rightsholders, beIN Sport will continue to offer these events outside of the United States, as it maximizes the WTA brand on a global scale. Tennis Channel and beIN Sport will also coordinate appropriate cross-channel promotion as part of the agreement, and beIN Sport will have highlight and replay opportunities.
“Everyone involved – the WTA, beIN Sport, DAZN Group, Tennis Channel – came together for this partnership, with the result a big victory for American tennis fans,” said Ken Solomon, president, Tennis Channel. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to tell the year-round story of the athletes and other off-court personalities who make the WTA the preeminent brand in women’s sports. The women’s game is the biggest differentiator between tennis and every other sport, and one of the most powerful elements in helping grow mass viewership online. As we continue to aggressively grow our closely integrated television and streaming subscriber bases – along with online, social media and print – we’re looking forward to forging new ground with the WTA in creating new, expanded demand and broad, nationwide awareness and excitement for the sport we love and represent.”
This agreement returns WTA Premier and International Tournaments to Network, along with year-end WTA Finals.
WTA Premier events that will be in Tennis Channel’s on-air or digital lineup in 2019 include those in: Brisbane, Australia; Sydney, Australia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Doha, Qatar; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Indian Wells, Calif.; Miami, FL; Charleston, S.C.; Stuttgart, Germany; Madrid, Spain; Rome, Italy; Birmingham, England; Eastbourne, England; Montreal/Toronto; Cincinnati, Ohio; Tokyo, Japan; Wuhan, China; Beijing, China and Moscow, Russia. Through existing agreements, the network already covers events in Indian Wells, Miami, Charleston and Cincinnati.
There are 30 WTA International tournaments under the agreement. From the start of the season in January to Wimbledon in July, these events are in: Auckland, New Zealand; Shenzhen, China; Hobart, Australia; Taipei, Taiwan; Budapest, Hungary; Acapulco, Mexico; Monterrey, Mexico; Bogota, Colombia; Lugano, Switzerland; Istanbul, Turkey; Rabat, Morocco; Prague, Czech Republic; Strasbourg, France; Nurnberg, Germany; Nottingham, England; s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands; and Mallorca, Spain.
The second half of the calendar includes International tournaments in: Bucharest, Romania; Gstaad, Switzerland; Moscow, Russia; Nanchang, China; Hiroshima, Japan; Quebec City, Canada; Guangzhou, China; Seoul, South Korea; Tashkent, Uzbekistan; Hong Kong; Linz, Austria; Tianjin, China; and Luxembourg, Luxembourg.
During the year-end WTA Finals, to be held in Shenzhen, China, in 2019, the eight singles players and doubles teams that have earned the most points throughout the season will clash in a grand finale of round-robin and knockout matchups reminiscent of finals weekend at any major.
Tennis Channel expects to show more than 20 matches at the competition, from the first day of play through the finals.
Sinclair is one of the largest and most diversified television broadcasting companies in the country. The Company owns, operates and/or provides services to 191 television stations in 89 markets. Sinclair is a leading local news provider in the country and operates the greatest number of award-winning news rooms in the industry and is dedicated to impactful journalism with a local focus. The Company has multiple national networks, live local sports production, as well as stations affiliated with all the major networks. Sinclair’s content is delivered via multiple-platforms, including over-the-air, multi-channel video program distributors, and digital platforms. The Company regularly uses its website as a key source of Company information which can be accessed at www.sbgi.net.
Sports Techie, women’s tennis feels to be entering a digital era poised to assist the sport compete for young players and eyeballs with the likes of eSports, golf and soccer, all drawing girls to their respective sports in record numbers.
As this moment in time, the game has the GOAT in 37-year old Serena Williams trying to set the record for Grand Slam tournament wins currently held by Margaret Court at 24. She had a chance to tie the record during the recent U.S. Open women’s final at Arthur Ashe Stadium but lost to 20-year old Naomi Osaka from Japan in straight sets. The future of tennis looks bright indeed.
Women’s tennis has amazing history, elite athletes and an international player pool, as well as the tried and true fan that already loves Tennis Channel, added to new Gen Z and millennial fans interesting in watching the WTA, to help grow the sport. Additionally, sponsors are finding these demographics to their liking. Add these assets all up and it’s a solid formula for success.
TC and the WTA are at the core of delivering women’s tennis to fans here in America thanks to advances in technology such as OTT, a tech partner like Sinclair and overall good timing.
Serve it up!
See ya later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!
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