For nearly two decades, a small network based in Southern California called the Tennis Channel has attempted to become the hub of the sport in the United States. This month, it got one step closer, wrapping up a deal that will make it the television home of nearly every major men’s and women’s tennis event other than the Grand Slams.
Tennis Channel’s deal to control the rights to so many high-profile tournaments is a coup for the growing network, a unit of the Sinclair Broadcast Group. It is also a bet, and some would say a risky one, that shifting top tennis matches from the sports behemoth ESPN is good for the growth of tennis and a sign that the sport’s future in the United States may lie largely with its most loyal followers.
Tournaments that have battled for airtime on ESPN for years are headed for the Tennis Channel. Can the sport grow with a lesser presence on the top sports networks?
Tennis Channel is an extremely low budget channel whose online streaming services are still riddled with technical issues and on like a 2 minute delay. Even seeking a contract with Fox Sports would probably be a better way to go than going all-in on a channel many people don't get and no casual sports fan ever goes to.