We live in an unprecedented tennis era, when four rivals thoroughly dominate the men's game and women such as Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams feature prominently in Forbes' annual Top 100 Most Powerful Celebrities lists. It is an age in which The Wall Street Journal describes the sport with such phrases as, "There is no game with so much excellence currently swirling at its top, that so reliably delivers not just entertainment but historic greatness" and "It isn't to be missed," after front-page headlines that scream, "The most exciting sport on the planet."
Perhaps that explains why 6.9 million viewers tuned into Tennis Channel's two-week Australian Open coverage in January, up 20 percent from last year, and why the viewers of its coverage of the past four majors (Wimbledon, U.S. Open, French Open, Australian Open) averaged 7.7 million per tournament. Simply put, there has never been a better time for advertisers to associate with televised tennis.
Launching in May 2003, Tennis Channel has grown to offer the most concentrated single-sport coverage in U.S. television, with exclusive rights to 85 percent of all televised tennis. Its 52-week schedule features more than 4,200 hours of competition from the game's top events, including the U.S. Open Series, ATP World Tour Masters 1000, top-tier WTA tournaments, Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Hopman Cup and year-end championships.
While the quantity may be impressive, the quality is even more so. Last year Top 10 male and female players competed in more than 600 live matches on Tennis Channel, including the four stars at the pinnacle of the men's game today. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, in fact, played more times on Tennis Channel in 2011 (215) than everywhere else combined.
The network's more than 1,000 hours of high-definition programming is not limited to match play, however. Original shows such as "Tennis Channel Academy," "Destination Tennis," "Fit to Hit," "Celebrity Tennis," "Best of 5" and "Signature Series" look beyond the court with lifestyle, travel, instructional and special-feature programming. Tennis Channel short-form programming also puts sponsor and partner brands in front of the network's coveted upscale audience, as does the network's website, with online content that cannot be found anywhere else.
2012 Programming Highlights:
Road to Roland Garros
U.S. Open Series
"Fit to Hit"
Barclays ATP World Tour Finals
Source: 12010 MRI Doublebase Study. 22010 Mendelsohn Survey of Affluent Homes. 32010 U.S. Open Ad Effectiveness Study with Turnkey Intelligence. 4Based on 2010 full-year schedule on all cable/broadcast networks.