LOS ANGELES, Jan. 20, 2016 –Tennis Channel and Tennis Australia (the governing body of professional tennis in Australia) have signed a multi-year rights deal heading into the 2016 Australian Open, underway now in Melbourne, Australia. The wide-ranging agreement includes all domestic media rights to five annual events leading up to the first Grand Slam of the year, along with access to historical matches from the Australian Open library and ongoing collaboration on original programs.
The agreement, anchored by live TV coverage of selected Australian Open qualifying matches for the first time ever in the United States, includes the Australian Open Asia Pacific Wildcard Playoff and Australian Open Australian Wildcard Playoff, in addition to FAST4 Tennis and World Tennis Challenge exhibition. Beginning in 2017 both the Brisbane International ATP 250 and Apia International Sydney ATP 250 will be included as a part of the agreement as well.
“We are delighted to establish a long-term, multi-platform relationship with Tennis Channel in the USA,” said Richard Heaselgrave, commercial director, Tennis Australia. “We will now be able to provide fans in America with more than 200 hours of live tennis from Australia’s ‘Summer of Tennis,’ as well as a variety of high quality, original programming year-round.”
Far from solely a January partnership during the Australia “Summer of Tennis,” the agreement ensures Tennis Channel and Tennis Australia will have an ongoing relationship and work together to create new short- and long-form content designed to highlight historical Australian tennis players and archival footage from memorable Australian Open matches.
“This innovative partnership allows us to align our industry-leading approach to distributing content with that of the progressive thinking by the team at Tennis Australia,” said Jeremy Langer, vice president, programming, Tennis Channel. “Our fans look forward to the Australian Open on Tennis Channel in mid-January, but now this partnership will ensure a robust offering of content, including preview shows, documentaries and shorts, strategically distributed on all of our platforms to benefit fans, sponsors and our partners for months leading up to the Open.”
FAST4 is a short-form version of tennis with set winners determined by the player that wins four games first. Other modified rules include no-ad scoring and let serves are played. This year’s FAST4 exhibition match was headlined by 14-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal this past weekend. Last week, Tennis Channel Plus showed four matches per day from the World Tennis Challenge. The three-night event featured team-tennis play with stars from the past and present, including Lleyton Hewitt, Mark Philippoussis, Marion Bartoli and Marin Cilic.
This year’s Australian Open Playoff took place in December. Australian Open qualifying and ATP and WTA Tour events in Brisbane and Sydney ran on Tennis Channel and
Tennis Channel Plus in January.
The network entered its ninth year of live Australian Open coverage on Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. ET with
Tennis Channel Live at the Australian Open. Tennis Channel is dedicating nearly 200 hours to the opening major of the season and almost 30 hours of live matches, with Hall of Famers Martina Navratilova, Jim Courier, Lindsay Davenport and others on air for the event.