SBD/January 18, 2012/Media

Tennis Channel Signs Multiyear Carriage Deal With Verizon

Tennis Channel signed a multiyear carriage deal with Verizon, which will start carrying the channel on its FiOS TV Ultimate HD package and premium Sports Packages. "Verizon plans to more widely roll out Tennis Channel next year," the company said in a statement. Verizon, like Cablevision, had been carrying Tennis Channel through a deal with the National Cable Television Cooperative. Tennis Channel went dark on Verizon and Cablevision during last year's U.S. Open, when its NCTC deal expired. Tennis Channel still does not have a deal with Cablevision (John Ourand, THE DAILY). After the deal with Verizon was completed, Tennis Channel yesterday began "popping up on Verizon's FiOS TV ultimate package as well as a separate FiOS sports package offered to subscribers in California, upstate New York, Texas, Florida and other markets." Tennis Channel yesterday also "petitioned the courts to enforce a recent FCC administrative judge's ruling that Comcast must make the channel more widely available to its customers." Comcast said that it would "file a response to the Tennis Channel next week." The FCC is "expected to decide on that dispute in the coming months." Financial terms of the "new multi-year Verizon FiOS TV-Tennis Channel agreement were not disclosed" (LATIMES.com, 1/17).

MAJOR COVERAGE: SI.com's Bruce Jenkins reviewed the early TV coverage of the Australian Open and wrote when Tennis Channel made its debut 7:00am ET Monday, viewers "couldn't help but notice the dropoff in quality since TC made its dramatic breakthrough at last year's French Open," when the coverage team included John McEnroe, Ted Robinson and Lindsay Davenport. McEnroe is "not in Melbourne" for the tournament this year, while Robinson, the "radio voice of the San Francisco 49ers, is immersed in one of the Bay Area's most compelling sports stories in years." Meanwhile, Davenport is "on maternity leave." Jenkins: "TC has taken some pretty big hits, relying on [Bill] Macatee, [Martina] Navratilova and Tracy Austin as its three-person crew on big matches." Tennis Channel "remains a vibrant entry," but the tournament is "primarily an ESPN2 production." Some have "criticized ESPN's tennis coverage for being too bland, and it seems there was a concerted effort to change that" (SI.com, 1/17).
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