ESPN Inks Multi-Platform Pact with WTA

ESPN has signed a six-year agreement with the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) to carry live coverage of its events across ESPN’s multiple platforms. The deal solidifies ESPN3, ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, as the premier destination for every major global tennis event on the men’s and women’s circuit in the US.

“This new agreement with the WTA says a lot about the power of ESPN’s multi-platform scale and its ability to serve passionate tennis fans,” said Jason Bernstein, senior director of programming and acquisitions, ESPN.  “We have a long history with professional tennis in our 32 years, and now we are slated to carry all the top-tier tennis events from around the world across our networks.”

The deal includes rights to season-long WTA matches as well as the following events:

  •         TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships: Championships singles final from Istanbul on ESPN2 and ESPN3, with round robin and semifinals coverage on ESPN3.
  •          WTA Premier Events: Live coverage of more than 70 matches from 11 events on ESPN3, including early round matches and select quarterfinals between January-October annually.

“With simultaneous matches and global events held year round, ESPN3 is an ideal platform for tennis,” said Damon Phillips, vice president, ESPN3.  “Fans have come to know the network as a leading destination for live tennis, including outer court and exclusive coverage.  Now with the WTA through 2016, ESPN3 is the year-round destination for tennis fans in the US.”

Coverage began yesterday with the TEB-BNP Paribas WTA Championships live from Istanbul. ESPN3’s live coverage will feature select round robin matches, both semifinals and the final on Sunday, October 30, at 11 a.m. ET. ESPN2 will provide television coverage of the final at 1 p.m.

“ESPN has long served tennis fans in the US, and we are pleased to continue to partner with them to deliver enhanced coverage of world class women’s tennis across ESPN’s multiple platforms,” said Stacey Allaster, CEO of the WTA.

The WTA is the governing body of the global circuit of women’s professional tennis events (with the exception of the Grand Slams and Fed Cup) and features the top-ranked women’s players in the world. This year marks the 41st edition of the Championships.  The Championships consists of the top eight singles players and top four doubles teams, competing for $5 million in prize money and the year-end No. 1 rankings.

With the deal, ESPN3 adds 150 live hours of women’s tennis each year to its programming slate. The network now carries all four Grand Slam tournaments, all ATP World Tour 500 and ATP Masters 1000 events – including Indian Wells and Miami – the WTA Premier events, and the season-ending championships of both tours – the TEB-BNP Paribas WTA Championships and Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. In 2011, tennis on ESPN3 accounted for over 2,750 live hours, including more than 2,200 exclusive hours.