Tennis Channel Nets Spot On DirecTV’s HD Lineup

Tennis Channel rang out 2007 by spinning in its first serve into the high-definition carriage arena.

Tennis Channel, which now holds telecast rights to three of the sport's four Grand Slam events, became the latest addition to DirecTV’s ever-expanding HD roster of networks on Dec. 31. The launch on the nation’s leading satellite provider's platform coincides with the network's move into a new state-of-the-art production facility in Culver City, Calif., construction of which began last May.

The new facility, which will facilitate HD simulcasting, includes a 5,000-sq. ft. production stage on the main floor and an insert stage, two production control rooms, a voice-over room and green room on the second floor. Additionally, the third floor houses production offices, where Tennis will be able to cut into broadcasts with news updates and ultimately develop its own newsroom. 

Since its launch in 2003, the network, which crossed the 20-million subscriber plateau this year, had been using the facilities and operations services of Fox Sports. 

“This is the Taj Mahal of high-definition tennis television,” said Tennis chairman and CEO Ken Solomon in a statement. “Its cutting-edge, on-air capabilities put televised tennis on par with every major sports or entertainment studio facility, but are devoted entirely to tennis and the growth of this great game. The control this gives us will noticeably elevate what appears on our channel, not just in terms of HD but also with a broad array of dynamic on-screen and digital elements.”

Tennis will initiate its first-live tournament production coverage on New Year’s Day with the international mixed doubles competition, the Hopman Cup tourney, from Perth, Australia. The network said it will utilize the world feed from Down Under for its Hopman telecasts, adding its own network commentary and analysis from the new studio. 

The first live tennis coverage originally produced by Tennis following its HD bow on DirecTV is scheduled for Feb. 2-3, when the U.S. Fed Cup team hosts Germany in La Jolla, Calif. 

Starting today, all of the net’s original programming, including documentaries, series and specials, will debut in the enhanced format on DirecTV. In anticipation of its new studio and high-definition launch, Tennis, after selectively covering some live events in the format since 2006 and which began shooting some of its own fare in the enhanced mode two years earlier, started producing all original programming in HD early this year.