By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
August 25, 2011
More than 200 hours of live TV coverage of this year’s U.S. Open will be available to tennis fans, via CBS Sports, ESPN, ESPN2, and Tennis Channel.
For the second consecutive year, Panasonic has signed a deal with CBS and the USTA to sponsor 3D broadcasts of the Open. CBS will expand its 3D coverage of the tournament to weekend matches from Arthur Ashe Stadium as well as select matches Louis Armstrong Stadium. Panasonic also plans a heavy on-site activation, including 3D viewing galleries and gaming centers. While 3D TV for the home market has its critics, Panasonic executives are committed to the technology. "Like any new technology, there’s still a ramp-up period we’re going through," says Betty Noonan, Panasonic North America Vice President of Marketing and Brand Management. "Distribution channels are opening up, but we still need more content. That’s why sports events like this are so important."
Tennis Channel has a different dilemma. Two years ago, the network and Cablevision’s feud over carriage rights spilled over into the Open, ironically threatening the ability of tennis fans in and around New York to watch some matches on TV. Instead of negotiating a deal, Cablevision joined the National Cable Television Cooperative, a group of about 1,000 cable operators whose “long-term contract with the network allowed it to be placed on sports tiers,” according to the New York Times. A new contract signed by the NCTC earlier this week mandates that the cooperative’s members carry Tennis Channel “on digital basic, or not at all." TC President Ken Solomon is "hoping that Cablevision will comply with the new contract,” which goes into effect at midnight on September 3, six days into the Open.
But like Irene slamming into Flushing Meadows this weekend, Solomon concedes it’s a hit-or-miss proposition.