Tennis Channel has made sure that one of its key players will remain on its court.
The network has reached a multiyear contract renewal with Bill Macatee, the veteran sportscaster who leads its coverage at the sport's four Grand Slam events. The deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed, comes on the eve of Tennis Channel's upcoming coverage of Wimbledon, where Macatee again will play a prominent role.
During the U.S. Open and Australian Open, Macatee, who has been with Tennis since 2007, will continue to serve as anchor and play-by-play man, introducing each day's coverage and detailing the match action. A talented interviewer, Macatee serves up those skills with the network's expansive encore and highlights studio shows Wimbledon Primetime and French Open Tonight, on which he also serves as a producer.
"It's been an honor to be part of Tennis Channel as we've grown from our first major steps at the French Open into the round-the-clock destination we are today during the Grand Slams," said Macatee in a statement. "I'm excited to continue this journey and really looking forward to the breakthroughs we're adding to this year's edition of Wimbledon Primetime in London during the next two weeks."
Tennis, which last year inked a 12-year renewal with the All England Lawn and Tennis Club, will present a new format for Wimbledon Primetime from a new state-of-the-art set enabling it to stay engaged with action throughout the grounds. Unlike the single solid, four-hour block of interviews and match coverage of the past, this year Tennis, starting on June 25, will offer seven nightly hours of original Wimbledon programming. The first four-hour edition each night will include three hours of on-court stories and encore match coverage, followed by an hour of fast-paced highlights and interviews. This will be followed immediately by a second edition with three entirely new hours of the day's best tennis, before the concluding catch-up hour. Moreover, the program will run all 14 nights of the tournament, through the final Sunday on July 8, as opposed to the 10 nights of previous telecasts, which ended with the women's semifinals on the second Thursday.
Last year, Wimbledon Primetime began at 7 p.m. (ET) and encored only once during the evening, starting at 11 p.m. ET. With the second run's conclusion at 3 a.m. ET, viewers were left without coverage until the following day. In 2012, Wimbledon Primetime will run for 14 continuous hours, from the end of one day's play to the start of the next. The initial editions will air from 5 p.m.-9 p.m. and 9 p.m. 1 a.m., followed by a four-hour encore (1 a.m.-5 a.m.) and two one-hour encores (5 a.m-6 a.m. and 6 a.m.-7 a.m.). There will be exceptions to the schedule on June 1, 7 and 8. On those nights, the show will air from 7 p.m.-11 p.m., with encore editions from 11 p.m.-3 a.m. and 3 a.m.-7 a.m..
Tennis officials said that adjustments to its French Open Tonight this past month contributed to that program's largest tune-in ever: some 290,000 average viewers, a 24% increase over 2011.
Macatee will be joined in providing Wimbledon Primetime coverage by Martina Navratilova, Lindsay Davenport, Justin Gimelstob, Bud Collins, the doyen of the sport's correspondents, and Mary Carillo, who is making her first Big W appearance on behalf of Tennis at this year's fortnight.