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Volume 21 No. 26
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Tennis Channel renews with NeuLion for OTT

Digital video company NeuLion has signed a multiyear contract extension with Tennis Channel to power the network’s over-the-top content strategy.

The new deal builds on a one-year trial contract the two parties signed last year. That fueled the creation of Tennis Channel Plus, the network’s OTT service, which made its debut with the 2014 French Open. The subscription-based Tennis Channel Plus, offering a 24-hour digital channel of live and on-demand content including live matches at $79.95 a year or $11.99 a month, has since been joined this year by a more conventional TV Everywhere digital product, Tennis Channel Everywhere. Tennis Channel Plus is now offered as a premium upsell option within Tennis Channel Everywhere.

Financial terms were not disclosed, and Tennis Channel executives also did not cite a specific number of Tennis Channel Plus subscribers, but said the subscription base has grown 400 percent in the past year. During the recent French Open, Tennis Channel Everywhere was the second highest-grossing sports iPad application behind At Bat.

The long-term renewal with NeuLion shows Tennis Channel’s heightened commitment to a multiplatform content strategy. To that end, network executives said they are continuing to share revenue from Tennis Channel Plus subscriptions with their linear affiliate partners, even though they are not required to do so.

“The entire media business is obviously going through fundamental shifts, but we don’t see OTT as some sort of either/or proposition,” said Adam Ware, Tennis Channel senior vice president and head of digital. “We’re not looking to tear down the business or completely invert what we do on TV. We’re trying to build all this up.”

Tennis Channel Plus now includes roughly 700 live events a year, more than twice what it started with.

“The live content with this is obviously important, but we’re also seeing a lot of interest in the on-demand material, and fans digging into highlights and time-shifting matches,” said Chris Wagner, NeuLion executive vice president of marketplace strategy.