As expected, Tennis Channel netted a multiyear deal with the All England Lawn tennis and Croquet Club Monday that will give the racquet sports service more than 100 hours of coverage during upcoming Wimbledon Championships fortnights.
With the agreement -- which includes some live match action, as well as Wimbledon After Dark, a four-hour nightly program immersing viewers in highlights and experiences from the sport’s most prestigious event -- the network now has telecast rights to three of tennis’ four Grand Slam events. Tennis, which presented the French Open in May/June, also has rights to the Australian Open, beginning next January.
The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, also affords Tennis multiplatform rights to Wimbledon content through its Web site.
“The word ‘Wimbledon’ evokes an almost magical connotation, not just with tennis aficionados, but with sports and casual fans the world over,” Tennis chairman and CEO Ken Solomon said in a prepared statement. “They say great things come in threes, and to add Wimbledon to our Grand Slam lineup along with the French Open and Australian Open -- plus the majority of the world’s other top tournaments -- is a milestone for both Tennis Channel’s viewers and in our network’s rapid forward expansion.”
It was unclear at press time how much live match action Tennis will be able to show -- a schedule that will be determined by commitments by Wimbledon’s U.S. broadcast partner, NBC, which renewed its deal, and ESPN.
Last month, ESPN officials told Multichannel News that the total-sports network reached an agreement in principle with the All-England Club on a contract extension, but no announcement has been forthcoming.
Tennis, though, will produce all matches it covers at Wimbledon, utilizing the network’s own on-air talent at the tournament grounds.