Tennis Channel has returned to Verizon FiOS TV's net through a new multiyear carriage agreement.
After the parties disconnected during the network's coverage of the 2011 U.S. Open, FiOS subscribers can now watch the action from Down Under at the sport's first Grand Slam of the season, the Australian Open. Verizon has rolled out Tennis to its systems serving Texas, Florida, California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and upstate New York, with the balance of its footprint coming on line Jan. 18. Tennis is available on FiOS TV channels 303 (standard-definition) and 592 (high-definition).
From 2005 through September 2011, Verizon had carried Tennis Channel through its affiliation with the National Cable Television Cooperative. When the network and the cable co-op entered into a new carriage agreement calling for digital-basic carriage on Sept. 4, a number of carriers, the most high-profile of which was Cablevision, elected not to opt in to the new deal, which represented a distribution upgrade from the old NCTC pact that placed Tennis on sports tiers.
For its part, FiOS decided directly with Tennis for its own licensing deal, negotiations for which continued throughout the fall and into the new year.
The result: the multiyear agreement, financial terms of which were not disclosed, returns Tennis to all of the telco's video customers who previously had access through the FiOS TV Ultimate HD package, as well as its premium sports packages. According to the parties, Verizon plans to roll out Tennis Channel more widely next year.
In the meantime, tennis fans can check out the network's 175 hours of coverage from Melbourne, which began Jan. 16, the tourney's second day, including 30 hours of live play, 85 hours of Australian Open Today and more than 60 hours of encore-match coverage.
"We're thrilled to be able to offer Tennis Channel to our FiOS TV customers again," said Terry Denson, vice president of global content strategy, Verizon, in announcing the pact. "Our customers have waited patiently for this channel to return to their TV screens, and we're happy to have it back. This new direct carriage agreement with Tennis Channel means FiOS once again offers a daily viewing destination for tennis fans."
Noted by Patrick Wilson, senior vice president, distribution: "We're happy to be back in front of Verizon subscribers. "We couldn't be more pleased that Tennis Channel will be part of Verizon FiOS TV lineup and that more of their customers than ever will have the chance to watch."
Tennis, which televises Down Under action via its multimedia Grand Slam alliance with ESPN, is presenting 10 consecutive nights of primetime matches, beginning at 7 p.m., within its overall, 13-day coverage window. The network's schedule encompasses the first Monday through the tournament's second Wednesday, Jan. 25, without any intermittent days off, as had been the case with previous fortnights.
Australian Open Today will run from 7 a.m.-11 a.m. most mornings, with the highlights, features, news updates and unseen matches that keeps American audiences up to speed with what happened Down Under, while most were sleeping. For the first time and on most days, Australian Open Today will encore every afternoon at 3 p.m., serving as a lead-in to Tennis' live coverage at 7 p.m.
Continuing the tradition it began in 2008 as the first U.S. network to air all five Australian Open finals, Tennis has again lined up live coverage of the men's, women's and mixed doubles competitions, and encores of the men's and women's singles championship matches.