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ATP Tour to go exclusive on Tennis Channel in US rights deal

New broadcast partnership sees ESPN bow out after 2020 season.

14 October 2020 Steven Impey

Getty Images

  • Sinclair-owned network adds ATP Masters 1000 events
  • Agreement includes both linear and digital broadcasts

Tennis Channel, Sinclair’s dedicated pay-TV service, has signed a multi-year broadcast rights deal with the ATP Tour to become the exclusive home of the men’s professional tennis tour in the US.

The deal, signed off by the governing body’s ATP Media broadcast arm, takes effect from the start of the 2021 season, and sees US broadcast giant ESPN bow out at this season’s conclusion.

Under the new arrangement, Tennis Channel will show live coverage from all of America’s ATP Masters 1000 events for first time, as well as all 13 ATP 500s and 16 of the ATP 250 tournaments.

As part of the deal, Tennis Channel will also base its on-air talent at each of the ATP Masters 1000 events for the first time.

The channel already covers most of the other ATP tournaments via third-party distribution agreements, in addition to the rising-star Next Gen ATP Finals and ATP Cup national team competition that debuted in January this year.

The agreement covers both linear and digital rights to the tennis tour, with live and on-demand coverage also being made available via the network’s Tennis Channel Plus over-the-top (OTT) streaming service.

“Tennis Channel and ATP Media have worked tirelessly for nearly two decades to expand the daily TV, streaming and on-demand coverage of this prolific sport across all popular platforms, and in doing so are making tennis competitive once again with other major sports in the US,” said Tennis Channel’s president Ken Solomon.

“Our combined work with parent Sinclair Broadcast Group has made Tennis Channel America’s fastest growing network for the past two years, allowing millions of returning and new fans to enjoy the ATP’s Tour’s scale and quality, which are unmatched in all of professional sports.”

In July, Sinclair entered into a multi-year content carriage agreement with rival media company Comcast for the distribution of all of Sinclair’s TV stations and regional sports networks (RSNs), including Tennis Channel.

According to Sinclair’s latest earnings, as of 30th June, the company saw year-on-year (YoY) net earnings increase six-fold from US$42 million to US$252 million, and also cited growth across its direct-to-consumer (DTC) arm.

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