Tennis Channel expands Blake’s role
LOS ANGELES — Tennis Channel and on-air analyst James Blake (@JRBlake) have agreed to a two-year broadcast extension on the eve of the BNP Paribas Open, which begins Wednesday, March 8. The announcement comes just before the channel’s annual festival of all-day, all-night coverage at the Southern California event and South Florida’s subsequent Miami Open, both commonly referred to as “fifth slams” in tennis circles. Tennis Channel is also adding Hall of Famer and network commentator Martina Navratilova (@Martina) to its March telecast for the first time, as well as injured American star Sloane Stephens (@SloaneStephens).
Blake, who first appeared on the network in 2013 during Davis Cup and the US Open, will widen his analyst’s role to include more events on Tennis Channel’s 2017 and 2018 lineups. This includes time spent on the network’s Los Angeles set and in the field: he will be part of the network’s French Open team in Paris for the first time this year. One of the most popular American players during his career, Blake ranked as high as No. 4 in singles and was part of the 2007 United States team that won the Davis Cup, contributing two match victories in the championship round against Russia. This is Blake’s second year as part of Tennis Channel’s team in Indian Wells, where he was a singles finalist in 2006.
“It’s been great working with Tennis Channel and I look forward to spending more time in the studio and on the road with them,” said Blake. “We’ve had such an exciting start to the 2017 season with the Australian Open, Davis Cup and Fed Cup, and I can’t wait to see what happens in Indian Wells and Miami this year.”
Navratilova has won more professional tennis titles than anyone in history and has been a part of Tennis Channel’s on-air roster during every Grand Slam the network has covered. This marks her first time offering commentary for the channel at the BNP Paribas Open, an event — like so many others — where she claimed multiple championships as a player, winning singles crowns in 1990 and 1991.
Stephens is joining Tennis Channel while recovering from a foot injury. The young star will bring her singular style and energy to behind-the-scenes features during the network’s coverage in Southern California and Miami, events where she has reached the singles quarterfinals. Stephens will also be part of Tennis Channel’s telecast at April’s Charleston tournament, where she is the reigning singles champion.
This year Tennis Channel will devote 25 days of comprehensive coverage to the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., and Miami Open — “Match Madness” for tennis bracketologists during the month of March. Beginning with the first day of play in Indian Wells on March 8 and running through championship Sunday in Miami on April 2, the channel will become the de facto “Fifth Slam Network,” with round-the-clock programming dedicated to the two events. Tennis Channel’s daylong live or encore matches and all-night re-airs will give viewers a virtually 24-hour opportunity to tune in to whichever tournament is underway. In all, the network will show 215 live hours and more than 520 hours total from Indian Wells and Miami.
Tennis Channel’s BNP Paribas Open telecast begins with one-hour lead-in show Tennis Channel Live at the BNP Paribas Open at 1 p.m. ET on March 8 (complete schedule for both tournaments below). Live matches then run into the night and early morning on most days, followed by encore replays up to the next day’s introductory program. In all, there will be eight days of live, daylong match blocks from Indian Wells, averaging almost 12 consecutive hours of play per day. The network will air 10 days of live matches at the 12-day event, running from the first round through singles quarterfinals and doubles championships March 8-19. Tennis Channel will air close to 110 live hours and more than 250 total during the competition.
Eleven days of live matches are planned for the network’s 13-day Miami Open coverage March 21-April 2. As with the BNP Paribas Open, the channel’s typical daily schedule in South Florida features live play all day, followed by encore re-airs throughout the late night and early morning, and an hour-long, daily lead-in show. The live telecast starts with the first day of play and runs through the singles quarterfinals and the men’s doubles final, with an average of 11 hours of matches the first nine days of competition. Tennis Channel will televise close to 110 live hours from the Miami Open this year, and close to 270 overall with encore replays.
In addition to Blake, Navratilova and Stephens, Tennis Channel’s BNP Paribas Open roster includes Hall of Fame analysts, retired stars, coaches, sportscast icons and one of the most admired tennis reporters in the game today. Hall of Famers Jim Courier and Lindsay Davenport (@LDavenport76) also found on-court success in the Southern California desert during their playing days. Courier won singles and doubles championships in 1991 and another singles crown in 1993, while Davenport’s stat sheet includes singles titles in 1997 and 2000, and another six doubles-tournament wins in 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2003.
Hall of Famer Tracy Austin (@thetracyaustin) is also returning to Tennis Channel’s Indian Wells booth this year, and rounds out the analyst team with former players and coaches Justin Gimelstob (@justingimelstob) and Paul Annacone (@paul_annacone).
Sportscast jack-of-all-trades Mary Carillo is back in Southern California for Tennis Channel with her trademark features, interviews, commentary and opinion. Award-winning announcers Ted Robinson (@tedjrobinson), Brett Haber (@Brett Haber) and Steve Weissman (@steve_weissman) are also making a return to the network’s BNP Paribas Open team, as is Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim). The magazine’s executive editor and senior writer maintains weekly tennis columns and podcasts, and is the author of numerous books about the sport.
Haber will host Tennis Channel Live at the BNP Paribas Open at 1 p.m. ET most afternoons, for an hour leading up to the first match of play. With Austin, Blake and Wertheim, the daily show will recap the previous day’s activity, analyze upcoming battles, and provide features and special reports on everything that happens in Indian Wells.
Much of Tennis Channel’s BNP Paribas Open team will cover the Miami Open as well, with Austin, Davenport, Carillo, Robinson, Haber, Annacone and Gimelstob set for Southern California and South Florida double duty. Former players Leif Shiras (@LShirock) and Chanda Rubin (@Chanda_Rubin) will join them as an announcer and commentator, respectively. In 1996 Rubin was a singles finalist in Miami.
Tennis Channel will offer daily women’s matches live and on-demand on its Tennis Channel Plus digital subscription service during the Indian Wells and Miami events. The over-the-top (OTT) platform will stream the best WTA matchups of each day’s schedule from the beginning of each tournament through the women’s singles finals. Tennis Channel Plus is available to everyone in the United States, regardless of whether they subscribe to the Tennis Channel television network. Most viewers who subscribe to the network are able to follow the channel through its free Tennis Channel Everywhere app, available to all Apple and Android users. The app allows digital audiences to stay on top of the “fifth slam” action by taking Tennis Channel with them wherever they go during the tournaments. Users can also access Tennis Channel Everywhere via Apple TV and Roku and Amazon Fire devices.
On Tennis Channel’s website, tennischannel.com, visitors will have more ways than ever to keep track of Southern California and South Florida. This year players Nicole Gibbs (@Gibbsyyyy) and Sam Groth (@SamGrothTennis) star in the network’s first multiplatform content series, My Tennis Life, and are providing viewers with a digital and television glimpse into the world of professional tennis away from the courts. Likewise, the network’s online and social media activity will take followers into the broadcast booth with Tennis Channel announcers and analysts for a backstage pass into the off-air world of tennis television.
Veteran tennis reporters Steve Flink (@sFlinko) and Joel Drucker (@joeldrucker) will file columns on both March events, while Wertheim will continue to post his Beyond the Baseline podcast on the network’s site in partnership with Sports Illustrated. Tennis Channel digital columnist Mike Steinberger (@WineDiarist) will be at the BNP Paribas Open as well, offering his unique observation on one of the world’s largest tennis competitions. At the same time online users can follow enhanced scoring data with Tennis Channel’s Live Play Tracker and catch up on news, highlights and other tournament fare.
Fans can also stay current with Tennis Channel’s social media activity this month, though conversations and posts on Facebook (facebook.com/tennischannel), Twitter (twitter.com/tennischannel), YouTube (youtube.com/tennischannel) and Instagram (instagram.com/tennischannel).
Tennis Channel’s Live BNP Paribas Open Coverage Schedule
|Tuesday, March 7||8 p.m.-9 p.m.||Racquet Bracket Live|
|Wednesday, March 8||1 p.m.-12 a.m.||First Round|
|Thursday, March 9||1 p.m.-2 a.m.||First Round|
|Friday, March 10||1 p.m.-2 a.m.||First Round, Second Round|
|Saturday, March 11||1 p.m.-2 a.m.||Second Round|
|Sunday, March 12||1 p.m.-2 a.m.||Second Round, Third Round|
|Monday, March 13||1 p.m.-2 a.m.||Third Round|
|Tuesday, March 14||1 p.m.-2 a.m.||Third Round, Round of 16|
|Wednesday, March 15||1 p.m.-2 a.m.||Round of 16, Quarterfinals|
|Friday, March 17||5 p.m.-7 p.m.||Quarterfinals|
|Saturday, March 18||7 p.m.-9:30 p.m.||Doubles Finals|
Tennis Channel will show encores of the men’s and women’s singles finals Sunday, March 19, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
Tennis Channel’s Live Miami Open Coverage Schedule
|Tuesday, March 21||12 p.m.-9 p.m.||First Round|
|Wednesday, March 22||10 a.m.-11 p.m.||First Round|
|Thursday, March 23||10 a.m.-11 p.m.||First Round, Second Round|
|Friday, March 24||10 a.m.-11 p.m.||Second Round|
|Saturday, March 25||10 a.m.-11 p.m.||Second Round, Third Round|
|Sunday, March 26||10 a.m.-11:30 p.m.||Third Round|
|Monday, March 27||10 a.m.-11 p.m.||Third Round, Round of 16|
|Tuesday, March 28||10 a.m.-11 p.m.||Round of 16, Quarterfinals|
|Wednesday, March 29||12 p.m.-7 p.m.||Doubles Quarterfinals|
|Thursday, March 30||12 p.m.-2:30 p.m.; 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m.||Doubles Semifinals|
|Saturday, April 1||3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.||Doubles Final|
The Miami Open men’s and women’s singles finals will run on Tennis Channel throughout championship Sunday, April 2.
About Tennis Channel
Tennis Channel (tennischannel.com), which is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, is the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and tennis lifestyle. A hybrid of comprehensive sports, health, fitness, pop culture, entertainment, lifestyle and travel programming, the network is home to every aspect of the wide-ranging, worldwide tennis community. It also has the most concentrated single-sport coverage in television, with telecast rights at the US Open, Wimbledon, Roland Garros (French Open), Australian Open, ATP World Tour events, WTA competitions, Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Hopman Cup. Tennis Channel is carried by nine of the top 10 video providers.
About Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI)
Sinclair is one of the largest and most diversified television broadcasting companies in the country. The Company owns, operates and/or provides services to 173 television stations in 81 markets, broadcasting 508 channels and has affiliations with all the major networks. Sinclair is the leading local news provider in the country, as well as a producer of live sports content. Sinclair’s content is delivered over multiple-platforms, including over-the-air, multi-channel video program distributors, and digital platforms. The Company regularly uses its website as a key source of Company information which can be accessed at sbgi.net.
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