Tennis Channel Nets Dish Deal


The Tennis Channel ripped an ace, signing a deal that puts the 24-hour sports and lifestyle network on EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network.

The channel -- which has struggled to gain distribution since launching nearly three years ago -- brings its subscriber count to some 9 million by getting on Dish’s “America’s Top 180” tier of programming.

Chairman and CEO Ken Solomon said the deal is significant not only because it gives the network a national footprint, but also because Dish has not confined it to a sports tier.

Before this, the network cut deals with eight of the top 10 cable operators, but much of its carriage resides on low-penetrated sports tiers.

Solomon said that the Dish deal should also let it reach more women.

Most women don’t subscribe to or watch programming on sports tiers, he said, adding, “We would be hitting one-tenth of our audience if we were on a sports tier. Women don’t buy sports tiers and non-sports fanatics don’t buy sports tiers.”

To help promote the channel, EchoStar will offer a free preview beginning Monday and running through the end of March.