LOS ANGELES, May 11, 2023 – Tennis Channel – with more live coverage than any sports network – will celebrate its 20th anniversary on air Monday, May 15. In two decades the network has grown from an idea in Los Angeles to the U.S. media home of the sport across different-but-complementary linear television, subscription video-on-demand (SVOD), online and free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) platforms. It produces and airs more live hours of sports annually than any other network, and provides tennis matches and storylines to seven countries outside the United States. In doing so, Tennis Channel has fundamentally changed the way the sport was covered prior to its debut, with tennis fans now enjoying daily, daylong telecasts throughout the entirety of the January-December tennis season. That tennis fans could follow consistent coverage of their favorite sport the way fans of other sports have for years was unheard of at the network’s outset.
In its infancy Tennis Channel offered select professional men’s and women’s tennis as well as sister sports like racquetball, badminton and table tennis. The network steadily gathered its now 93% of all live rights to the sport during the past 20 years. This includes becoming the exclusive U.S. home of men’s (ATP) and women’s (WTA) professional tour matches across all platforms. In that time Tennis Channel has also established itself as the American home of Roland Garros (the French Open), the second of the sport’s four majors, while multiple hours of coverage at the other three: Wimbledon, the US Open and Australian Open.
Tennis Channel has also built one of the all-time television-sports rosters, with Hall of Famers, former players and award-winning sportscasters. This includes Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin, Jim Courier, Lindsay Davenport, Andy Roddick, Chanda Rubin, Paul Annacone, Taylor Townsend, Ted Robinson, Brett Haber and Steve Weissman, among many others.
“In our wildest dreams 20 years ago we couldn’t have imagined the changes in media and technology that have allowed Tennis Channel to share this sport in its entirety, in the way that it actually exists every week on the tours,” said Ken Solomon, president, Tennis Channel. “We’ve engineered continuing success through innovation and a bespoke model that works for the fans, the tours and the players. The original linear network, the SVOD platform and FAST channel combined give you a tennis experience that’s never been available in history. But whatever combination or by themselves, they suit anything our viewers, sponsors or distribution partners need. Building on them, we’re excited to think of where Tennis Channel will be on its 30th anniversary and beyond.”
From an idea that many questioned, Tennis Channel grew to become one of the most successful independent networks in television at the time it was acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group in 2016. Today the network consists of:
LIVE TV: Tennis Channel (2003): the original, linear television network with more than 8,700 hours of daily, live tennis and storytelling narrative throughout the year
ON-DEMAND: Tennis Channel Plus (2014): the first SVOD streamer to use the now ubiquitous name “Plus,” which offers 4,500 matches and allows viewers to choose which live or on-demand courts they want to watch. With its debut, Tennis Channel became the first television network to put a subscription streaming service and authenticated television on the same app.
FREE, LIVE TV: T2 (2022): the network’s second channel, a free ad-supported streaming service with live matches and an even more broadly appealing approach, available today on Samsung TV Plus and YouTube TV beginning June 1
WEB/SOCIAL: Tennis.com (relaunched in 2021 after 2017 acquisition): the most comprehensive tennis site in the world, with real-time draws, schedules and rankings; live scores; calendars; estimated start times, head-to-head results and win probabilities; user personalization; links to live and on-demand matches; and original content widely disseminated across the most popular social platforms
PODCAST: Tennis Channel Podcast Network (2019): the digital home for podcasts dedicated to the sport, with close to 20 podcasts today, including Think About it With Victoria Azarenka, Kickserve Radio and Tennis Channel Live
GLOBAL: Tennis Channel International (2020): the network’s service in Austria, Germany, Greece, India, Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, with live matches and original local programming tailored to each market. Tennis Channel is now the exclusive home of all WTA women’s tennis in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Heading into its third decade, Tennis Channel plans more innovation and development unique to the game it serves. As legalized betting and other gamification become more accessible in the United States, the network – with its media rights to almost the entire sport – has more avenues for integrating user engagement from fans throughout the country. Second only to soccer in sports wagering around the world, legalized tennis betting in America is already seeing a similar rise in small prop stakes between friends having fun while watching together. Globally, the same media model that has been a success domestically is translating to its international customer base as well, which the company expects to grow exponentially during the next decade. In little more than a year, FAST channel T2 is already in more homes than the original Tennis Channel reached on its 10th anniversary, a number that is going to skyrocket in the years ahead. During the sport’s largest tournament outside the majors in March, Tennis Channel tested a metaverse prototype and envisions a time when all of its platforms are linked in a virtual ecosystem with e-commerce options that lets fans feel like they are actually walking around these beloved international events.
Perhaps most significantly, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tennis Channel plan to offer the original, linear television network that launched in 2003 direct-to-consumer in 2024. This, for the first time ever, would make Tennis Channel available to everyone in the United States – itself a milestone once unimaginable.