There was a lot of tennis news Tuesday, and not all of it was volleyed at the
U.S. Open at the National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.
Miles to the west in Manhattan, The Tennis Channel served up a series of
investment, programming and advertising announcements.
David Meister and Steve Bellamy -- chairman and president, respectively, of
the fledgling network -- said at a press conference that tennis great Andre
Agassi is joining the service as an investor and spokesman.
Tennis -- which has carriage pacts with Time Warner Cable and the National
Cable Television Cooperative -- is slated to bow by year's end.
At the press conference, the network also announced that it has signed Wilson
Racquet Sports as a charter advertiser. Under a multiyear deal, terms of which
were not disclosed, the division of Wilson Sporting Goods will not only be
running ads across the channel's programming, but give viewers looks at how
equipment is developed.
Wilson endorsers -- which include Pete Sampras (also a Tennis investor and
spokesman), Roger Federer, Todd Martin, Venus Williams, Serena Williams and
Lindsay Davenport -- will also be involved in segments, ranging from profiles to
Tennis also said it has acquired the TV rights to eight additional men's and
women's pro tournaments: the Family Circle Cup, the JPMorgan Chase Open, the
Sarasota Clay Court Classic, the Open Gaz de France, the U.S. Men's Clay Court
Championships, the Siebel Open (which will be the site of its first televised
domestic tournament next February), the TATA Open from India and the River Oaks
Elsewhere, the network announced a pact with World Team Tennis for live event
coverage, as well as access to archival footage. The agreement also encompasses
marketing and promotion of the WTT pro league.
Tennis officials and Women's Tennis Association head Dennis Wulff also said
the parties were nearing the completion of a pact that would encompass a 'wide
range of ideas and initiatives.'
With the tennis world focused on Flushing, Tennis also gave press-conference
attendees a glimpse of its first original series, No Strings, a glimpse
into the lifestyles of pro tennis The network screened ATP star Andy Roddick
hanging out with Sampras on the latter's plane. Other profiles are planned on
Davenport and James Blake.