The U.S. Open tennis championships begin on Aug. 31 and
Tennis Channel will provide some 240 hours of coverage from the sport's final
But unless a pact can be signed over the next two weeks, the network and
Cablevision, the New York
area's predominant distributor, won't be playing doubles during the upcoming
Tennis, which is sublicensing rights to the major tournament
through a deal with ESPN, has been unable to net an agreement with Cablevision,
despite "hundreds of hours of time spent" in discussions over the years.
Tennis chairman and CEO Ken Solomon said the network remains
hopeful that an accord can be reached before the Open, but noted that "we
have not made significant progress with Cablevision" in the four years he has
headed the network.
Cablevision issued this volley in return: "We've made offer
after offer to the Tennis Channel and they've turned a deaf ear."
The United States Tennis Association, the rights-holder and
host of the Open, has also been unable to convince Cablevision about the value
of Tennis Channel and the Grand Slam event.
"The USTA has been involved in a number of meetings and phone
calls with Cablevision and clearly wants to see Tennis Channel have as a great
distribution as possible," said a spokesman "We don't see Tennis Chanel being relegated to
a digital sports tier." The USTA holds an equity position in the network.
Solomon said that with year-round coverage of the sport,
including all four majors, Tennis, which also airs original series and
specials, presents between 2500 and 3000 hours annually in HD.
"There is no other network with that kind of quality being
offered that limited distribution," he said. "Tennis is the best value-equation
While Cablevision is not the only major distributor that
doesn't carry Tennis -- AT&T U-verse and Cable One also remain outside the
distribution court looking in -- they don't serve the metro New York area, which embraces the Open in
late August and early September.
During the Open, Tennis is scheduled to present 72 hours of
live match play, including exclusive primetime windows on Labor Day weekend.
Through live and encore editions of its US
Open Tonight wrap-up show and a five-hour morning programming setting the
stage for the day's play, Tennis is expected to tally some 240 hours during the
That expansive coverage will be made available to some 55
million homes as Tennis, whose current subscriber base is in the 25 million
range, has secured free previews, like it has for other majors, in select
markets with a number of cable providers. Among those on board: Armstrong,
Bright House, Comcast, Cox, Insight, Knology, RCN and Time Warner Cable.
Tennis' coverage will also be available nationwide to Dish,
DirecTV and Verizon FiOS during the Open.