Tennis Channel Opens New Operations Facility in Conjunction with High-Definition Launch Today
LOS ANGELES — Tennis Channel, the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and passionate lifestyle of tennis, today formally moved its production and operations activity to a new, state-of-the-art facility near its Los Angeles-area headquarters. The move comes in conjunction with the network’s high-definition launch on DIRECTV, also effective today.
The new building, located in Culver City, Calif., enables Tennis Channel to create original programming in its own studio environment and with a master control that will accommodate HD simulcast in 2008. The network has utilized the facilities and operations services of FOX Sports since its launch in 2003. The operations infrastructure at Tennis Channel’s new facility also allows for future media platform development and international broadcast growth.
“This is the Taj Mahal of high-definition tennis television,” said Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO, Tennis Channel. “Its cutting-edge, on-air capabilities put televised tennis on par with every major sports or entertainment studio facility, but are devoted entirely to tennis and the growth of this great game. The control this gives us will noticeably elevate what appears on our channel, not just in terms of HD but also with a broad array of dynamic on-screen and digital elements.”
Construction began in May 2007, following nine months of thorough architectural planning and development that streamlined the actual building process, taking into consideration the various electrical, mechanical and television broadcast needs. The finished product includes a 5,000-sq. ft. production stage on the main floor and an insert stage, two production control rooms, a voice-over room and green room on the second floor.
Additionally, the facility’s third floor houses production offices and enables the network to cut into broadcasts with news updates and ultimately develop a network newsroom. The space was designed by Los Angles architecture firm Eric Owen Moss, which has done work for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Stanford University and Sony Entertainment.
About a dozen employees will be housed full time at the new studio.
“Since day one FOX has been a great partner for Tennis Channel – we couldn’t have launched the network in 2003 without them,” said Larry Meyers, senior vice president, production, and executive producer. “But the timing for us to move into our own facility couldn’t be more perfect with today’s high-definition launch. We’re very proud of how this new studio turned out. It’s a prototype for what can be done by an independent, stand-alone network, providing a tremendous bang for our buck.”
The facility is supported by an extensive array of top-manufacturer television broadcast equipment. This includes Masstech Group archival systems that automatically back up all Tennis Channel programming; Harris Corp. servers and comprehensive master control switching and branding products; EVS Spotbox digital video recorders in the edit rooms; Doremi digital video recorders in master control; Chyron HyperX HD character generators for on-screen text; and Sony routing switchers, production switchers, HD videotape recorders (HDcam format), studio cameras and LCD monitors throughout the building. Venue Services Group, Inc. (VSG) handled the entire operations system’s comprehensive wiring design and installation.
“Everything that we’ve done for the new operations facility is predicated on reliability and 24/7 television,” said Keith Manasco, vice president, operations, Tennis Channel. “The equipment we’re using comes from the best in the business and fully integrates on-air digital production with all digital platform distribution systems.”
“This new studio came together through the hard work of many people, both external and inside Tennis Channel,” added Dean Hadaegh, chief technology officer and vice president, administration, Tennis Channel, who oversaw the entire project from concept to creation. “What we’ve built is a facility that not only interconnects all Tennis Channel offices and gives us the ability to make our network available in HD, but also a system that is very forward-thinking and allows us to embrace and implement advancing broadcast technologies as they are introduced.”
On Jan. 1 Tennis Channel will christen the new facility with its first live production, coverage of the annual international mixed-doubles Hopman Cup tournament in Perth, Australia. The network will utilize the world feed from Australia for its Hopman Cup telecasts, adding its own network commentary and analysis from the new studio. The first live tennis coverage originally produced by Tennis Channel following the HD launch on DIRECTV will take place Feb. 2-3, when the U.S. Fed Cup team hosts Germany in La Jolla, Calif. The weekend-long event will be the first round of the 2008 Fed Cup competition, the most prestigious international team cup tournament in women’s tennis.
Starting today, all original programming – documentaries, series and specials – will premier in high definition on DIRECTV. In anticipation of its new studio and pending high-definition launch on DIRECTV (with others expected to follow), Tennis Channel began producing all original programming in high definition in early 2007. Additionally, the network has covered live events in high definition periodically since 2004, and first began shooting various original programming productions in high definition in 2006.
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