Tennis Channel Adds Morning Show, Touchscreen to Near–Non-Stop Coverage
From its lofted location in Arthur Ashe Stadium overlooking the South Gate, Tennis Channel is once again serving up round-the-clock US Open coverage, beginning with a new, half-hour lead-in show every morning at 10:30 ET.
“It gives us an opportunity to be who we are as a network and tell the story of tennis,” says Bob Whyley, SVP of production/executive producer. “[It allows us] to be nimble, if there are any stories developing, and recap the night before.”
US Open Live, hosted by Brett Haber and Tracy Austin, leads into Tennis Channel’s daily match coverage, which runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. US Open Tonight airs from 11 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., and following an immediate encore, Breakfast at the Open airs at 6 a.m.
With 20 hours of coverage a day, Tennis Channel will dedicate nearly 245 hours to the 2012 US Open throughout the two-week event, including more than 70 hours of live coverage and 30 hours of original programming.
“We pride ourselves on [the fact that], if you’ve missed anything, if you [didn’t] see it live on Tennis Channel or ESPN or CBS, you can check out re-airs overnight and in the mornings,” says Whyley. “We really think that we’re offering the perfect US Open experience.”
New to the Tennis Channel production is SMT’s Tennis GOTO Board, a state-of-the-art, 65-in. touchscreen and interface system designed specifically for the US Open. Using the touchscreen, analysts can access SMT’s telestrator and video playback, an interactive US Open court map, live scores and stats, continuously updated draws, and social-media tracking.
“What’s so special about this touchscreen is, IDS [a division of SMT] works with IBM here [to] harvest all the data, so the touchscreen has all of the data harvested by IDS/IBM accessible to it,” says Whyley. “Not only can we use it as a telestrator device, but IDS also harvests Twitter and Facebook for us, and they also [add] all the statistical data, draws, and maps of the campus. It’s all accessible. It’s been a great tool.”
In addition to cameras and facilities shared with CBS and ESPN, Tennis Channel has rolled out a roving RF camera and three ENG field units for its exclusive use. Tennis Channel is operating out of NEP’s SS16, which boasts three six-channel EVS servers, an upgrade over last year’s one EVS machine.
On camera, Tennis Channel has added Hall of Famer Jim Courier as lead men’s analyst. He joins Martina Navratilova and Austin, as well as US Open mainstays Bill Macatee, Ian Eagle, Ted Robinson, and Haber. Former player Lindsey Davenport joins the on-site crew, after taking part in Tennis Channel’s Los Angeles-based studio show for the past few years. Justin Gimelstob, Rennae Stubbs, and Mats Wilander serve as on-air analysts, and Mary Carillo returns for her second stint on Tennis Channel’s US Open team, covering a wide range of on-air duties. Reporters Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated and Cari Champion of Tennis Channel’s Court Report round out the on-air crew, delivering breaking news and in-depth story details.
For fans unable to catch the Tennis Channel’s coverage on television, www.tennischannel.com features real-time scoring, schedules, draws, and order of play, as well as video highlights, behind-the-scenes features, interviews, and Court Report news updates.
Web visitors can also try their luck at Tennis Channel’s US Open prediction game, “Racquet Bracket,” and keep up with the network via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Viddy.