fishing, hockey, and HS basketball better coverage than Indian Wells... What the F?

Once again, Fox Sports (Comcast Sports Network) in the SF Bay Area is pre-empting or abbreviating coverage of the IW Masters. No Nadal/Nalbandian on Wednesday night, nor Federer/Verdasco. The 2009 coverage [stinks] as bad as 2008. At least Tennis Channel wouldn't pre-empt coverage to air a 2008 rerun or a hockey game. Please let Charlie Pasarell know.
-- Annette, Oakland, Calif.

• Amen. In a word, this situation is unacceptable. Indian Wells is a world-class event with record attendance and a top-tier sponsor.....and television coverage unfit for a high school jiu-jitsu tournament. How do you call your tournament the "Fifth Slam" and have your coverage get pre-empted for fishing? This is like owning a sweet new Macbook and then having dial-up Internet access. You may as well cut bait entirely and stream matches online than alienate fans like this.

I see this from the tournament's perspective. ESPN was unwilling to give them enough hours of coverage. And much as we all love Tennis Channel, it's still --thanks, Dolans! -- unavailable in so many markets. It also bears mentioning that the international coverage draws high marks. If you want it straight from the directors' mouths, click here.

Still, the current situation is untenable and here's what I don't get: In recent years, the USTA was negotiating with ESPN for broadcast rights of the U.S. Open and, presumably, negotiating from a position of some strength. Why not say, "As part of the deal, you have to guarantee X hours of coverage of the Indian Wells and Key Biscayne events. Our organization, after all, is based on promoting and growing tennis in the U.S., and when the second- and third-biggest Americans event are, for all intents, not televised, it's a real problem. What's that? The ratings would rival those for bull riding and bass fishing? Fine, throw it on ESPN Classic or ESPNU or ESPN Reject Bin. Just somewhere so there's a distinct time and place and the viewers can watch without having to worry that the matches will be pre-empted for the saltwater taffy pull." Then the USTA could either turn around and charge a fee to IW and KB for using its leverage, or even get some sort of equity stake. Anything to avoid the current situation, which has the effect of chilling interest in the sport.

Just to be clear: This has nothing to do with the quality of the broadcasters --Lindsay Davenport, Justin Gimelstob, Ted Robinson -- or the productions. It's just a function of access.

Side note: Just so you know, I think Lindsay did an incredible job as a commentator. Much better than Justin Gimelstob. But then, as you know. I don't really care for him. He's lousy.


sh4realz said...

Tennis Channel should have coverage of all. Period. Its the tennis Channel...Why should I have to switch to 3 or 4 different channels to watch my tennis. But regardless, I was ready for way more tennis then what you guys gave us. And its way too bad someone screwed up Venus and Serena, then maby you wuld get your coverage, someone needs to do some serious sucking up. It almost sucks w/o them right now. But Tennis Channel needs to have better programming. I mean classics with Serena, Henin, Clisjers, Sharapova , Venus, Federer, Sampras, Agasi...and all events that are not otherwise covered, that's why I bought it., but still I like it. Nice effort.

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