Tennis Net Borrows Comedy Sales Team

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Why bother hiring a big affiliate-sales team if you can latch on to someone
else's? That's the strategy implemented by The Tennis Channel, a start-up
network set to debut this fall.

Tennis will use Comedy Central's affiliate-relations team to reach individual
systems and regional MSO programmers to strike agreements, based on master
affiliation deals Tennis will negotiate itself, chairman David Meister said.

Tennis will pay Comedy a combination of fixed and incentive-based fees, but
the agreement will cost the start-up about one-half of what it would've spent to
fully man the field, Meister said.

Frank Biondi and other Viacom Inc. alumni back the network. Viacom co-owns
Comedy.

The Tennis-Comedy partnership is unique, but there are some similar
arrangements in the industry.

Digi-net incubator TViFusion Inc. has offered to handle affiliate and ad
sales for some start-ups in exchange for equity, and OlympuSAT Inc. offers
satellite-delivery and affiliate-relations services for some fledgling nets.
Also, Discovery Communications Inc. handles distribution and ad sales for BBC
America.

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