For so long fans of women's tennis have long advocated for a different narrative on women's tennis. There are endless megabytes of articles written by men (and sometimes women) about women's tennis who completely miss the point about women's tennis. Then there have been articles severely criticising the WTA regarding the lack of information about its players. I am glad to say that the WTA has seen the light and snapped up one of the most prolific and staunch supporters and defenders of women's tennis in Courtney Nguyen (follow her @FortyDeuceTwits). Recently, the Realz Tennis Fan Podcast crew sat down with Courtney to talk to her about her new role as the WTA Insider, what it means for women's tennis today and for the future.
Since posting the above news has broken that ESPN will no longer air the French Open.
ESPN will no longer broadcast tennis' French Open, leaving Tennis Channel as sole cable outlet; @NBCSN could get in the mix. Story in SBJ— daniel kaplan (@dkaplanSBJ) August 3, 2015
There are rumours that ESPN is also considering dropping the Australian Open from its Grand Slam. This is beyond disappointing for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that Tennis Channel as I understand it is a premium channel and therefore is not available as part of a basic cable package to many subscribers within the United States. In addition, the Tennis Channel is not readily available outside the United States. Even worse is the fact that Tennis Channel's premium subscriber service, Tennis Channel Plus is not available anywhere outside the Continental United States.
This announcement follows hard on the heels that starting this year the USO Series will air exclusively on ESPN and its digital platform ESPN3. Again, for many of us who live outside the United States and who would be able to get Tennis Channel are consigned to looking at small computer screens in order to watch tennis.
Tennis as it is wont to do continues to shoot itself in the foot when it comes to providing content that is readily available.
This blog has taken issues on many occasions with Tennis Channel and its coverage of events. However, they have made significant improvements. One of the benefits of having Tennis Channel is the constant repeat of tennis matches in case you missed it. Their Center Court feature is one of the best things in tennis broadcasting for a long time and their analysts have grown significantly over the past year. For those of us especially who are fans of the women's game, the ability to wake up on a Saturday or Sunday morning and tune in to a live women's final from the edge of beyond was a welcome event.
I subscribe to my tennis through a convoluted series of events via Dish Network. As Dish Network is not readily available outside the US, this can cost a pretty penny. As a result I do get Tennis Channel and ESPN. I have written on numerous occasions to both Tennis Channel and ESPN requesting that their digital service be provided to persons outside the US. To date, I have not been able to get any kind of response.
The French Open is a significant part of the Grand Slam season. The clay court season makes up for a significant portion of the tennis season and to now have the premier clay event being relegated to a channel that is not readily available speaks volumes about ESPN's lack of thought on this. It is to be hoped that we are not going back to the days of delayed coverage of this tournament but one can only hope.