American fans just got lucky

08-13-2002, 02:15 AM
USA Network to Continue to Broadcast U.S. Open

from the New York Times

The United States Tennis Association has extended its contract with USA Network for United States Open broadcast rights for the next six years, and took a step toward organizing the scattered nature of the tennis season when the network also agreed to televise a series of lead-in tournaments starting next summer.

Tennis officials will not reveal the numbers when they announce the deal today, but people close to the negotiations say it will be worth $125 million, an increase of 40 percent from the deal signed with USA Network six years ago.

"I do think this sport is in the early stages of a resurgence, and this is a reflection of that," said Arlen Kantarian, U.S.T.A.'s chief executive for professional tennis.

The deal bucks the overall sports trend of declining rights fees and television time--including ESPN's announcement last week that it was cutting its National Hockey League coverage by 30 percent--largely because the United States Open has countered the trend of declining television ratings for sporting events. USA said its ratings for last year's Open increased by 36 percent over the previous year and had increased by 84 percent since 1997.

This year's Open begins Aug. 26.

USA has been the Open's cable outlet for the past 18 years, broadcasting weekday and weeknight coverage. CBS holds the rights for the weekend matches through 2003.

What Kantarian said he was most excited about was USA's agreement to broadcast a series of smaller summer tournaments, helping to promote the season as a lead-in to the Open. Agreements need to be worked out between USA and those tournaments, as well as the ATP and WTA Tours. But the hope is to give the season a sense of buildup that has been missing.

Now, most of the smaller tournaments negotiate their own television deals, usually by paying for the air time.

"I hope our players and tournaments realize this is something that will help grow the sport, a consistent television presence," Kantarian said. "Our mission is simple: to promote the growth of the sport. The more excitement we can generate, the more kids will want to become tennis players in the future."

Kantarian has been working toward a more unified television presence since he arrived at the U.S.T.A. two years ago. Initially, the hope was to find a network broadcast partner to televise more summer tournaments. USA, though, is not only willing to televise more tournaments, but will also produce a huge marketing effort at the United States Open and its prelude events.

From USA's standpoint, those tournaments are ready-made advertising for the Open. USA has already begun its marketing campaign for this year's Open, which includes not only commercials during its other programming, but also billboards and print advertising as well.

"What better way to promote the U.S. Open than by staging lead-up events with much of the same cast of characters?" said Gordon Beck, USA's senior vice president and executive producer. "We can develop the stories in our events that will play out in the U.S. Open. We're looking forward to this concept paying off."

As a centerpiece event, the Open has been a bonanza for USA, which has a limited slate of other sports programming. Last year, the men's quarterfinal between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras drew a 4.1 rating and the biggest cable audience ever for a tennis match.

The network is convinced that the Open will continue to stay valuable, despite the ratings decline of many other sporting events. Women's tennis is surging in interest, helping offset the swoon in the state of United States men's tennis.

08-13-2002, 02:17 AM
Lucky? Not really. It will still be xenophobic biased coverage.

08-13-2002, 02:20 AM
They've got to start somewhere.

08-13-2002, 02:29 AM
Well, ESPN showed two full weeks of ATP tennis, which is better than nothing, this year. Smatterings of the last three WTA events were also seen if you hunted for them. It would be nice to have USA show in entirety both Masters events and then the WTA events Rogers Cup and Pilot Pen. And also show finals/semis for the lesser ATP events at the same time. But starting the viewing season as far back as Stanford on the WTA would be very nice indeed.

During the summer hardcourt season, many matches are played throughout the day and evening...placing them across three time zones live without cutting into prime time (if they do not want to take the risk) should not be difficult.

For the record, as far as coverage in the US of any tennis grand slam, USA's coverage of the US Open has always been superior to ESPN at Australia and TNT at Wimbledon. When USA gave up Roland Garros this year and gave it to ESPN, it was very sad.

08-13-2002, 02:38 AM
Originally posted by lurker
When USA gave up Roland Garros this year and gave it to ESPN, it was very sad.

Don't remind me :sad:

Though TNT's coverage of Wimbledon is pretty good.

08-13-2002, 02:43 AM
Scott, move to Europe or something. :p

Seriously, I mean, what else do you expect? This is the American slam being shown on American television networks. Of course it's going to be biased toward Americans. Excluding fans like us who seriously follow tennis, how many people in the USA do you think tune into a tennis match hoping to see Roger Federer vs. Gustavo Kuerten? Not many.

I agree it's annoying having RodPrick and the Predators thrown in my face all the time, but you've got to look at it from the television network's point of view. They have to make money to stay in business, and the odds are good they'll have a buttload more people tune in and STAY tuned in to watch the Prick and Double Head and the Gorilla and the Predators. If not USA network, then who? And do you really expect it to change?

And I agree with lurker, USA by far has the best tennis coverage.

08-13-2002, 02:47 AM
True, TNT is ok with Wimbledon and they're still learning so I expect they'll get better, but they MUST get rid of that weird guy that sits at this desk by court 18, I can't remember his name but he looks like the devil.

ESPN really SUCKS...too many tape delays and replays of Roddick/Sampras/Agassi matches.

08-13-2002, 02:49 AM
Originally posted by lurker

ESPN really SUCKS...too many tape delays and replays of Roddick/Sampras/Agassi matches.

Amen to that!

But I like Ernie Johnson. :p

08-13-2002, 02:51 AM
Marly :p

I wouldn't tune in for Federer vs. Kuerten. :p

And I didn't say I don't understand, I just don't like it :p

At least we get a decent amount of coverage of tennis, and they *have* to show whoever is on center court at nights. But still, it will be RodPrick and Double Head.

08-13-2002, 02:55 AM
Dr. Marly...I'll leave Ernie Johnson alone then!!

I live in the US and I would dearly love to see any player not named Agassi/Sampras/Roddick, but it seems ESPN only shows non-US players named Henman and Kafelnikov. Really, for the longest time. Until they realized that people thought Safin was a hunk, they never shwed him. When Guga won Roland Garros 2 years in a row and they saw his charisma, they finally showed a little of him, but he promptly got himself on the injury list :( And Lleyton had to be number one for more than 6 months and win Wimbledon before they gave him his due.

I'm still waiting for Haas to do something great so they'll show him more. Thank goodness Federer clobbered PMac's Davis Cup team last year or we might never have heard of him;)

08-13-2002, 02:55 AM
Scott. :p

I wouldn't tune in for Federer vs. Kuerten either :p but that was sort of my point. Sort of. :p

I have to say I'll pitch a fit if we get umpteen RodPrick-center-court-at-night matches. Which I'm sure we will. :rolleyes:

Chloe le Bopper
08-13-2002, 04:53 AM
Oh goody, this means that TSN will be carrying the Andy Roddick show as well - on current form it looks like I might get a week and a half of it;)

08-13-2002, 05:09 AM
I call Ernie Johnson the Court 18 guy. I would love to turn around in my chair and be able to watch a live tennis match (dream on me)

I hope Federer and Kuerten NEVER play each other again. Hamburg was enough. Too hard to see one of them lose.

ESPN sucks. TNT is very good. USA is the best. Moving the FO to ESPN this year was the worst thing they could have done. Someone should be fired for that. If you wanted to see anyone who wasnt American, you were out of luck. If you wanted to see people with the last names of Agassi, Roddick or Williams, get out the popcorn.

And lurker, YES!, thank god Federer beat up on the DC team last year. That was the first time I had seen him and listening to Mal and Cliff warm up to him was very nice :)

08-13-2002, 11:06 PM
If you want them to get rid of someone from TNT's coverage of Wimbledon, I'd say dump Marv Albert. I almost had a heart attack when I heard his jaws flapping at last year's Wimbly.

Who's bright idea was that? :eek: