Tennis Channel will take the wraps off a new studio set next week during its coverage of the ATP World Tour Finals.
Based in Tennis Channel's Culver City, Calif. production-and-operations facility, the new set will serve as the base for the introduction of studio-based, live-coverage lead-in and wrap-up shows - Tennis Channel Live - akin to what the independent network has done on the grounds of the U.S. Open and other tournaments in recent years. In 2014, the set will also become the new home of "Court Report," the network's series of nightly tennis news updates.
Reflecting the latest design sensibilities, Tennis Channel's new studio set includes four premium rear-projection screens and a state-of-the-art lighting system. Center stage rests on a raised platform 12 feet in diameter with a wraparound sofa that encloses the space in a semicircle, capable of housing large groups as well as one-on-one interviews. Two 55-inch monitors flank the right and left sides, and the entire set is anchored by a back wall of painted brick and bamboo with wood-grain trim. The set was sesigned by Las Vegas-based Scenic Technologies, which also created Tennis Channel's Wimbledon stage and the set of Fox's singing competition franchice, American Idol.
During events like the U.S. Open, French Open and Wimbledon, the network enhances its coverage with tournament-based sets that have become central gathering places for top players, agents, coaches, reporters and other industry leaders. Tennis Channel Live gives the network the ability to do this from Southern California at any of the other tournaments it carries throughout the year, with essentially a "Grand Slam in a Box" whenever it wants, according to network officials.
The new set will first appear on Monday, Nov. 4, during Tennis' live, weeklong coverage of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. Hosted by Brett Haber, Hall of Famer Tracy Austin and longtime network analyst Jimmy Arias, the first edition of Tennis Channel Live will air from 12:30 p.m.-1 p.m. (ET), with a post-match wrap from 5 p.m.-5:15 p.m. Among guests set to appear in studio during the first week are Hall of Famer Michael Chang, renowned coach Paul Annacone, and current players Sam Querrey and Sloane Stephens.
"Viewers have reacted extremely positively to the on-site studio shows at the Slams and other competitions, and we've always planned to expand this concept to more events throughout the year," said Bob Whyley, senior vice president, production, and executive producer at Tennis "We cover more than 100 tournaments every year, and envision a point where Tennis Channel Live is used to enhance virtually all of them. It was important to us that the new set reflected our signature conversational environment, as opposed to a straight news desk. Tennis has never had this type of studio show on television, and this is a natural progression in our network's evolution as the sport's on-air home."
Following the men's year-end championships and Davis Cup Finals, the network will serve Tennis Channel Live at select tournaments in early 2014, before increasing in frequency as the year progresses.
The "Court Report" news vignettes currently airs from a smaller stage in the Culver City facility, but will move to the new studio set in January.