Tennis Channel is an American sports-oriented digital cable and satellite television network that is owned by the Sinclair Television Group subsidiary of the Sinclair Broadcast Group. It is devoted to events and other programming related to the game of tennis, along with other racquet sports such as badminton and racquetball. Launched on May 15, 2003, the channel is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and produces its programming out of an HD-capable broadcast center in the Los Angeles suburb of Culver City. Ken Solomon serves as the network's chief executive officer.
|Launched||May 15, 2003|
|Owned by||Sinclair Television Group
Sinclair Broadcast Group
|Slogan||Where Champions Live|
|Headquarters||Santa Monica, California|
|DirecTV||Channel 217 (SD/HD)|
|Dish Network||Channel 400 (SD/HD)|
|C-Band - H2H/4DTV|
|Consult your local cable provider for channel availability|
|Sky Angel||Channel 324|
In 2001, the Tennis Channel (TTC) was founded by Steve Bellamy, who soon hired Bruce Rider to head up programming and marketing. A group known as the "Viacom Mafia"—a group that includes Viacom’s former CEOs, Philippe Dauman and Frank Biondi, and current CEO, Thomas E. Dooley—became involved in the founding of the channel. This group invested and rounded up additional investors, Bain Capital Ventures, J.P. Morgan Partners, Battery Ventures, Columbia Capital, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, who as a group invested about $100 million. These founders felt with other single sports channel like the Golf Channel succeeding with a mostly male demographic and tennis having viewer of both sexes and of a desirable high-end demographic that a tennis channel would draw in advertisers. The channel was launched in the Spring of 2003 with its first live show at the April Fed Cup tie in Lowell, Massachusetts.
The Tennis Channel gained broadcast rights in 2002 for the Scottsdale ATP tournament, Franklin Templeton Tennis Classic. The channel purchased the tournament from Scottsdale Tournament in March 2005 and was renamed the Tennis Channel Open. TTC moved the open to Las Vegas for the 2006 year and indicated that the men's event would expand into “Tennispalooza” by adding men’s, women’s, and juniors’ tournaments plus other events. The first event added by the Open was the “World Stringing Championships” for the fastest racquet stringer.
In 2005, the channel's management was swept out by the owners who brought in new management led by Ken Solomon. As the channel had not broadcast any of the four Grand Slam tournaments by then. The subscriber base was only 5 million in 2006. The channel also joined the new Association of Independent Programming Networks' seven independent channels group launched on February 1, 2006 with Randy Brown, TTC senior vice president of distribution, as a co-founder with The American Channel's Doron Gorshein.
Tennis Channel then won cable rights to the French Open in 2006 by doubling ESPN's offer, after negotiations between ESPN and French Open organizer French Tennis Federation had dragged on for nine months and the parties had been only $250,000 apart over an $18 million deal. Tennis Channel then sub-leased ESPN half of the French Open cable rights at a much lower cost than ESPN would have paid for all rights to the tourney. Tennis Channel also gained broadcast rights for the US Open, with cable coverage of each event being shared with ESPN2.
TTC had added women’s and juniors tournaments, collegiate tennis, unique qualifier formats, paddle tennis, platform tennis, air hockey, foosball and table tennis to the TTC Open by 2008. With the gaining of broadcasting rights to three Grand Slam tournaments that was growing its core media business and a changing tournament schedule slated for 2009, The Tennis Channel sold their tourney to Association of Tennis Professionals in April 2008. In 2009, the channel broadcast its first United States Open.
On September 4, 2011 during the US Open, Tennis Channel pulled its signal from Verizon FiOS, Cablevision, Suddenlink Communications, Mediacom, WOW!, Knology and General Communication Inc. systems after the providers declined to accept a new agreement that the Tennis Channel made with the National Cable Television Cooperative (a group which the seven providers are members). Along with a fee increase, the agreement also required that the Tennis Channel be moved from their optional sports package to their digital basic tiers. Tennis Channel returned to Verizon FiOS on January 17, 2012.
In July 2012, the Federal Communications Commission ruled in favor of Tennis Channel following a three-year dispute between the network and Comcast over placement on extra-fee sports tier. As a result of the ruling, Comcast was prompted to remove Tennis Channel from its sports package tier, available to customers via an extra charge, and carry the network on the same basic cable tier as Comcast-owned Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network. The FCC found Comcast's previous handling of the network to be discriminatory. This marked the first time that a cable distributor was found to have violated federal anti-discrimination rules. Comcast successfully disputed the ruling in 2013, continuing to carry Tennis Channel on its sports package. Despite these issues, which do not involve the marketing departments of Comcast, NBC or Tennis Channel that are not party to the carriage dispute, both it and NBC continue to cross-promote each other's broadcasts of the French Open. The company appealed to the Supreme Court, but was denied a hearing.
TTC launched its Tennis Channel Everywhere application in 2013 allowing satellite services DirecTV and Dish Network and some cable provider customers to stream content to their tablets and smartphones. Tennis Channel Plus, an Over-the-top content programming service, was offered to the public on May 25, 2014. So as not to alienate their pay TV providers, the providers are being given a cut of the profit on Channel Plus. However, the channel only has digital rights to the French Open and none for its final round.
In April 2013, Al Jazeera Media Network was speculated as expressing interest in purchasing the channel to compliment beIN Sports, though nothing came of this. The channel opened an online store selling professional and lifestyle golfing merchandise and gear. The store is operated by Delivery Agent under the Shop TV brand.
On January 27, 2016, Sinclair Broadcast Group, the largest owner of over-the-air television stations in the United States, announced that it would acquire Tennis Channel for $350 million. In the statement announcing the purchase Sinclair CEO David Smith said that Tennis Channel had high-quality content and advertisers, though it had been valued low and was under-distributed. Sinclair also gets greater than $200 million of net operating losses to offset its future taxes. The deal was closed on March 2, 2016. Days later, Sinclair announced an agreement with the French Tennis Federation to extend their rights for the French Open to cover the full pay-TV run of the tournament (NBC will retain the other 20%); ESPN already announced in August 2015 that it would no longer carry the sub-licensed blocks from Tennis Channel under company-wide cost-cutting measures, citing that its coverage was hindered by not owning sole rights to the tournament as it does for the other majors.
The network broadcasts live tournaments, news, one-on-one interviews, game analysis and skills instruction. Tennis Channel provides extensive coverage of the Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Hopman Cup as well as other tournaments throughout the year. Tennis Channel is the exclusive cable rightsholder of the French Open; while it previously sub-licensed portions of this coverage to ESPN, this arrangement ended in 2015.
- ATP … Tennis (in 2004). Weekly series on the ATP tours.
- Bag Check (in 2004). A look at what is in pro players' racquet bag.
- Center Court with Chris Myers (in 2004). Interview show with top pros and coaches.
- Girls on Tour (in 2004). Behind-the-scenes with the WTA Tour.
- Inside Tennis with the Koz (in 2004). David Kozlowski hosted tip and interview show.
- Match Point America (in 2004). Weekly professional circuits highlight magazine show.
- No Strings (in 2004). Personal lives of the pros.
- One-Minute Clinic (in 2004). Top coaches run live-action tennis technique drills.
- Open Access 04 (in 2004). Follows the tours giving "a first-hand account of the top players outside the lines."
- Pro File (in 2004). Profiling top and upcoming players on both tours.
- Tennis Insiders (in 2004). On-location panel discussion.
- On Court with USPTA (in 2004). Instructional show.
- Dennis Van der Meer (in 2004) Host is PTR founder and president. PTR is a tennis teacher and coach educating and certifying company.
.com—Tennis Channel official website
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