WTA's Allaster Upset That ATP Matches Get Far More TV Time At Sony Open
While the fields and prize money "have remained equal for men and women" at this year's ATP/WTA Sony Open, the disparity in television coverage "has been stark," according to Ben Rothenberg of the N.Y. TIMES. By the end of the tournament, 71 men’s matches will have "been produced for television and streaming, compared with 26 women’s matches." While players have "seemed unconcerned by the inequality of matches available, women’s tennis fans have taken note, sending hundreds of frustrated messages to the WTA through social media." WTA Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster said, "I think everyone wants those matches to be on air. ... Miami will be a top priority for us. That conversation will be had with Perform and Miami because we can’t have those matches be dark." Perform, the WTA's broadcast distribution partner, "does not produce matches itself at combined tournaments, instead paying for the services of the men’s broadcast organization, ATP Media Tennis Partners Limited." The number of women's matches to be shown "increased to 26 from 20 last year." But Sony Open Tournament Dir Adam Barrett "indicated an unwillingness to foot the bill for additional women’s matches." Allaster said that the WTA "could not subsidize an individual tournament’s world feed production 'because we’d then have to do that for everybody.'" ATP Media CEO Steve Plasto noted that his organization invests $20M in its broadcasts each year. Meanwhile, the WTA’s broadcast interests "act more like a local broadcaster." Plasto: "It's very difficult to reconcile the two different business models when it comes to media rights" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/28).
THE VOICE: TENNISNOW.com's Blair Henley wrote ESPN's Cliff Drysdale's "smooth, distinguished voice is as much a part of the fan experience as the tennis itself," having been a part of the net's telecasts since "they first aired" in '79. Dyrsdale said of his relationship with the ESPN tennis crew, "I do have a very nice relationship with the team. We talk about being a family, and in this business of egomaniacs, we are surprisingly compatible." Asked why he is yet to retire, Drysdale said, "I think about that. And then I think that means not going to Australia and enjoying the sun in January; not going to Wimbledon during the best time to be in England; being in frantic New York City, weather-wise probably the best time of the year there, too. It’s a hard thing to walk away from. Those are nice places to be." Asked if he follows what viewers are saying on social media, Drysdale answered, "Honestly, if I followed it, I probably would be upset. But I don’t. I feel like I’d be affected too much if I read stuff that people were saying" (TENNISNOW.com, 3/27).