Tennis Extends WTA TV Contract Through 2016
Tennis Channel and the Women's Tennis Association have extended their TV rights deal though the 2016 season.
The deal, the financial terms of which were not disclosed, encompasses at least a dozen Premier-level tournaments annually, as well as the WTA's year-end championship event, which is currently taking place in Istanbul and will be served in the Turkish city in 2012 and 2013 as well.
All told, the rights extension represents 170-to-190 live or first-run match hours per year on the network. Tennis, which has been televising WTA matches since 2004, also gains "TV Everywhere" rights under the renewal.
The dedicated racquet sport service's deal -- Tennis' current contract with the women's tour expires after this season -- follows the agreement ESPN reached with the WTA earlier this week, largely for broadband rights for its ESPN3.com service through 2016.
In addition to the year-end championships, the WTA Premiere tournaments that are part of the agreement and slated to air on Tennis Channel in 2012: Brisbane International (Brisbane, Australia) Medibank International (Sydney), Open GDF Suez (Paris), Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (Dubai, United Arab Emirates), Qatar Ladies Open (Doha, Qatar), Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (Stuttgart, Germany), Internationali BNL d'Italia (Rome), Mutua Madrid Open (Madrid, Spain), Brussels Open (Brussels), AEGON Classic (Eastbourne, England), Toray Pan Pacific Open (Tokyo), China Open (Beijing) and Kremlin Cup (Moscow).
"Tennis Channel has been a fantastic partner for the WTA," said WTA CEO Stacey Allaster in a statement. "The extensive coverage and promotion that they provide for our WTA events has been a key ingredient in the growth and popularity of women's tennis in the United States."
Noted Tennis chairman and CEO Ken Solomon: "Women's tennis is uniquely valuable in the world of major professional sports, with star power, sponsorships, prize money, ratings and ticket sales that are the envy of so many others. Stacey and the WTA have built the foremost brand in women's sports today, and a critical component of our on-air schedule. Year-round women's competition is one of the most important things that set Tennis Channel apart from any other network."
The WTA pact follows the recent long-term agreements Tennis Channel has made to continue as the primary rights-holder of the French Open through 2022 and for its Wimbledon Prime telecasts through 2023.
For its part, ESPN has scored a WTA deal encompassing live coverage of more than 70 matches from 11 events on ESPN3, including early-round matches and select quarterfinals between January and October annually.
It also covers the final of the WTA Championships on ESPN2 and ESPN3, with round robin and semifinals coverage on the broadband service.
The eight-player field features a pair of groups, with the top two from each advancing to the semifinals. The final is scheduled for Oct. 30 at 1 p.m. (ET). This year's participants: Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, Li Na, Vera Zvonareva, Samantha Stosur and Agnieszka Radwanska.
Tennis covers all of the WTA Championships on television, including the final on tape delay.
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