Monday, May 20, 2013

ESPN & TENNIS Channel French Open coverage plans

The French Open begins next Sunday, May 26. ESPN, mostly on ESPN2, TENNIS Channel, and NBC share the rights to cover the French Open, the only Grand Slam that ESPN doesn't have championship rights to. To prep people for this event, TENNIS Channel and ESPN have both released press releases. When NBC issues one this week, it will also get posted here at Eye on Sky.

First from TENNIS Channel

Tennis Channel French Open Logo


Close to 70 Live or First-Run Match Hours on Tap During Two-Week Event, from First Day of Play through Men’s Semifinal Round

Macatee Returns to Host French Open Tonight in Primetime; McEnroe, Navratilova, Davenport, Carillo, Robinson, Eagle, Haber, Gimelstob, Shiras, Adams, Stubbs, Wertheim to Handle Match Action

Hundreds of Hours of Free Digital Coverage Available on Network’s Web Site, Mobile App

LOS ANGELES, May 20, 2013 – Tennis Channel, the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and tennis lifestyle, will begin its first day of 2013 French Open coverage with nine consecutive hours of matches followed by a another nine hours of interview-and-encore show French Open Tonight. This daily balance – long blocks of competition followed by an all-night review of the day’s play – will be the template for much of the network’s two-week telecast, set to get underway Sunday, May 26. With plans for close to 70 live match hours, more than 65 hours of encore replays, and 114 hours of French Open Tonight, Tennis Channel will devote more than 200 hours of seemingly round-the-clock coverage to the world’s most prestigious clay-court event this year.
In its seventh year at Roland Garros, Tennis Channel’s live coverage runs from the first day of play through the men’s semifinal round and includes encore replays of the men’s and women’s singles quarterfinals, semifinal and championship competitions. The network’s most common daily schedule will offer live matches from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. ET. From 3:30 p.m.-7 p.m. it will showcase the day’s best action via encore match replays, regardless of whether the matches originally aired live on Tennis Channel or broadcast partners NBC or ESPN2 (a complete schedule follows, below).
French Open Tonight, hosted by Bill Macatee (@BMacatee), will run from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. and then again twice throughout the late night and early morning. Since 2008 the show’s stage has overlooked the scenic Musketeer Plaza in the heart of the Roland Garros tournament grounds, with crowd bustle and spectator applause an ever present audio backdrop. As he has done since Tennis Channel’s first French Open in 2007, Macatee will bring his engaging interviewing approach into tennis fans’ homes each evening, encapsulating the day’s best through conversations with the players, coaches, and industry representatives who will write the history of this year’s tournament. Thirty-seven-and-a-half first-run hours of French Open Tonight are planned for 2013.
From 4 a.m.-5 a.m., Tennis Channel will run daily highlights provided by the event’s governing French Tennis Federation, before ESPN2 initiates a new day of match coverage at 5 a.m. Between Tennis Channel and ESPN2, viewers will have virtually non-stop, 24-hour coverage of the French Open. Since 2007, Tennis Channel has produced all telecasts for both channels, with each network cross-promoting the other’s telecast.

On-Air Talent

In addition to Macatee at the helm of French Open Tonight, Tennis Channel’s coverage in the City of Light has been marked each year by lead analysts Martina Navratilova (@Martina) and John McEnroe, Hall of Famers who return to the network booth in 2013. With 76 major championships between them – and reputations for telling it like it is – both have endeared themselves to tennis fans through unique points of view honed by years of tennis knowhow and accomplishment.
“It’s great to be back at Roland Garros with Tennis Channel,” said Navratilova. “With Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer either attempting or rewriting history, it’s an exciting time in tennis.”
Lindsay Davenport (@LDavenport76) will add her champions’ perspective to the network’s coverage again, along with fellow analysts Justin Gimelstob (@justingimelstob) and Rennae Stubbs (@rennaestubbs). Leif Shiras (@LShirock) and Katrina Adams (@katadams68) will see to Tennis Channel’s multiple-court mosaic offering to DIRECTV customers, while Mary Carillo will host the network’s live tournament desk and conduct interviews for the third consecutive year. Play-by-play responsibilities are again shared by Ted Robinson, Ian Eagle and Brett Haber (@BrettHaber), with Sports Illustrated‘s Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) on hand for special reports and opinion.

 Broadband and Digital Coverage
Tennis Channel’s Web site,, has offered free match streaming live and on demand since its first year of French Open coverage in 2007. Up to five simultaneous courts will be accessible to visitors from 5 a.m. ET through the end of the day’s play, with more than 300 hours overall. New for 2013, the network is launching a free mobile app – Tennis Channel Everywhere – that is available to all users of Apple or Android digital platforms. In addition to French Open matches, the app will include daily updates from Tennis Channel’s online video page with highlights, Court Report news and popular player Bag Check clips.
Veteran tennis reporters Steve Flink and Joel Drucker (@joeldrucker) will be in Paris to contribute to Tennis Channel’s Web site again this year. Throughout the tournament online users can access real-time scoring, photos, daily highlights, interviews, features and segments from French Open Tonight. Interactive tournament draws will be available later this week, as will sweepstakes information and the network’s “Racquet Bracket” tournament prediction game. Additionally, Tennis Channel’s digital team will introduce a Twitter feed, @TCEverywhere, that will be integrated with other social media channels to give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at Tennis Channel and its on-air team’s 2013 French Open production. Tennis Channel currently engages with viewers on Facebook (, Twitter (, YouTube ( and Instagram (

Tennis Channel’s Live 2013 French Open Match Schedule
(Men’s/Women’s Singles Unless Otherwise Specified)

Sunday, May 26 — 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m., First-Round Action
Monday, May 27 — 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m., First-Round Action
Tuesday, May 28 — 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m., First-Round Action
Wednesday, May 29 — 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Second-Round Action
Thursday, May 30 — 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Second-Round Action
Friday, May 31 — 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Third-Round Action
Saturday, June 1 — 5 a.m.-Noon, Third-Round Action
Sunday, June 2 — 5 a.m.-1 p.m., Round-of-16 Action
Monday, June 3 — 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Round-of-16 Action
Tuesday, June 4 — 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Quarterfinals
Friday, June 7 — 7 a.m.-11 a.m., Men’s Semifinal
Tennis Channel’s encore coverage will include same-day replays of singles quarterfinals and semifinals, and the men’s and women’s singles championship matches after the tournament concludes (ET):
Wednesday, June 5 – 1 p.m.-7 p.m.: men’s and women’s singles quarterfinals
Thursday, June 6 – 2 p.m.-7 p.m.: women’s singles semifinals
Friday, June 7 – 5 p.m.-midnight: men’s semifinals=TBD: men’s and women’s finals
On Tuesday, June 11, the network will air the women’s doubles championship from 6 a.m.-8 a.m. ET and men’s doubles championship from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. ET.

Tennis Channel’s French Open Tonight Schedule

Viewers who miss Tennis Channel’s live or encore match coverage during this year’s tournament can tune into French Open Tonight Sunday, May 26-Thursday, June 6. Typically the show airs from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. (all times ET), followed by immediate repeats from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. and 1 a.m.-4 a.m. On Saturday, June 1, the show originally airs from 3 p.m.-6 p.m., followed by encores from 6 p.m.-9 p.m., 9 p.m.-midnight and 12 a.m.-3 a.m. The schedule on Sunday, June 2, sees a first run from 4 p.m.-7 p.m., then 7 p.m.-10 p.m., 10 p.m.-1 a.m. and 1 a.m.-4 a.m. Thursday, June 6, the show will air from 7 p.m.-11:30 p.m. and then 11:30 p.m.-4 a.m.
And now onto ESPN.

ESPN at the French Open: Live Morning Matches Start Sunday, May 26

50+ Hours on ESPN2, ESPN3 with 330 Hours; Most View Nadal (despite ranking), S.Williams the Favorites 

Live morning matches on ESPN2 and day-long coverage via ESPN3 will bring French Open action to fans starting Sunday, May 26.  ESPN2’s schedule of more than 50 hours – starting live at 5 a.m. ET most days – continues weekdays through Thursday, June 6, culminating with the women’s semifinals.  ESPN3 will provide up to seven screens of action on the days ESPN2 is on the air, totaling 330 hours.

In both the women’s and men’s draws, contenders hope to break the stranglehold the top players have had on recent major championships. 
  • On the men’s side, injuries – both current and Nadal’s in 2012 – leave the seeding up in the air.  Novak Djokovic is ranked No. 1 and won the year’s first major in Australia while No. 2 Andy Murray, who finally won his first Grand Slam title at the 2012 US Open is likely to withdraw because of injury.  No. 3 Roger Federer – who has reached the quarterfinals of 35 consecutive majors, winning a record 17 – heads to Roland Garros without a title in the current year for the first time since 2000.  Defending champ Rafael Nadal is ranked No. 4, thanks to his long layoff the latter half of 2012, but leads the 2013 points race with six victories (five on clay) and few would be surprised if he were to bring home his eighth trophy from Paris.  The contenders after Nadal – David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin Del Potro (who may be forced to withdraw) and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – have have all shown the ability to defeat a member of the Big Four but a major title would be a huge break through.
  • At 31, Serena Williams’ recent play certainly befits the top-ranked player in the world: 36-2 this year, riding career-best win streak of 24 matches and five titles.  Winner of two of the last three majors and 15 overall, she is looking to avenge her stunning first-round defeat a year ago in Paris and win back the crown she has won just once (2002).  No. 2 Maria Sharapova is the defending  champion and 30-4 in 2013 but three of those losses came to Williams in finals.  No. 3 Victoria Azarenka is 22-2 year to date with two titles including her second straight Australian Open.  She fell to Williams 6-1, 6-3 Sunday on clay in the Rome final.  At No. 4 and No. 5, Agnieszka Radwanska and Sara Errani are at a career-best ranking but each has only reached one Grand Slam final (Wimbledon, 2012; French Open, 2012, respectively) while No. 6 Li Na took the trophy in Paris in 2011 and reached the final of this year’s Australian Open.  American Sloane Stephens, 20 – who emerged as a threat with an upset of Williams in Australia – is ranked No. 17 while Varvara Lepchenko of Allentown, Pa., is No. 29 but reached the fourth round at Roland Garros 12 months ago.
TV Coverage

After the opening day, ESPN2’s schedule will continue with an all-live telecast starting at 5 a.m. each day through Friday, May 31, and again on Monday, June 3.  The network will air live quarterfinal action Tuesday, June 4, at 1 p.m. and Wednesday, June 5, at 8 a.m.  ESPN2 will air the women’s semifinals live Thursday, June 6, at 9 a.m.  All the action on ESPN2 is also available through WatchESPN online at and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app. 

Chris Fowler and Chris McKendry will again share host duties on ESPN2, with Fowler also calling matches.  They will be joined by Evert, along with returnees Darren Cahill, Cliff Drysdale, Mary Joe Fernandez, Brad Gilbert and Pam Shriver.

ESPN networks present all four Grand Slam events and have televised the French Open 1986 – 1993 and since 2002.  ESPN3 delivers an unmatched multi-screen presentation of the sport’s four majors, all ATP 1000 and 500 tournaments, WTA Premier Events and season-ending championships for both tours.    
For the seventh consecutive year, ESPN2 is working with Tennis Channel to bring viewers an almost around-the-clock tournament experience, with each channel cross-promoting the other’s schedule.  Tennis Channel will produce all coverage for both channels, with each making use of its own on-air team. 

ESPN3’s French Open schedule totals 330 hours with a multi-screen offering of up to seven courts and ESPN2’s coverage and is available on the days the network is televising.  ESPN3 will begin each day early in the morning with the first ball in the air and continue to the last shot of the day.  Matches will also be available after they take place via replay.  Additionally, ESPNPlay in Latin America and the Caribbean will provide customers with extensive live coverage with multiple windows totaling over 500 hours in both English and Spanish on broadband platforms in addition to televised coverage throughout the regions.

Other ESPN Platforms
Fans will have a variety of ways to follow the French Open with live action and updates on an array of ESPN platforms wherever they are and regardless of whether there is live television offered. will provide comprehensive coverage before, during and after the French Open, highlighted by CourtCast, which will feature all the live action from ESPN3.  As always, it will also include real-time scoring from all courts, plus continuous live polling with results revealed immediately in ESPN2’s telecasts.  CourtCast will also provide an augmented  social media feed (Twitter and Facebook) from the players, analysts and writers. And, of course, will have the latest news, analysis, schedules and more.  Fans can watch Digital Serve daily with ESPN2 commentators discussing the latest action and previewing key matches.  Other highlights include:
  • The Latest Dirt – a daily notebook roundup of all the day’s action;
  • Center Court – a tennis video show featured each week on all the major news from Roland Garros;
  • – Comprehensive daily coverage of the women’s draw by senior writer Jim Caple;
  • What We Learned – senior writer Greg Garber and others will highlight the day’s news and notes with quick video snippets on the overlooked storylines.
The WatchESPN App – for fans who receive ESPN’s linear networks as part of their video subscription via Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Verizon FiOS TV, Comcast Xfinity TV, Midcontinent Communications, Cablevision, Cox, Charter or AT&T U-verse – will provide access to for ESPN2’s live coverage online at and through the WatchESPN app on smartphones and tablets, in addition to ESPN3’s multi-screen offering. 

ESPN Mobile TV will have 46 hours of live coverage, simulcasting ESPN2’s live programming, highlighted by the women’s semifinals Thursday, June 7.

ESPN Interactive TV, exclusive to DIRECTV, will present the French Open showing ESPN2 or Tennis Channel’s live coverage along with five other courts available with commentary.  Other features include interactive data, the tournament draw, up-to-date scores, and daily order of play.

ESPN International will present over 100 hours of live French Open coverage to more than 50 countries in Spanish-speaking Latin America and the Caribbean on its pan-regional and regional networks.  Matches will be chosen based on local interest, and commentary will be offered in English and Spanish, with expert analysis provided by two Spanish-speaking announce teams: Luis Alvarez & Javier Frana and Eduardo Varela & Jose Luis Clerc  In addition to both SD and HD television telecasts, ESPN International’s broadband service, ESPN Play, will stream over 500 hours of live French Open matches, including the men’s and women’s finals.

ESPN – All Four Slams, All In One Place
Tennis has been part of ESPN since its first week on the air and provided many memorable moments, but it has never been as important as today, with the US Open joining the lineup in 2009, giving ESPN all four Grand Slam events, something no other U.S. network has ever done, let alone in one year. ESPN has presented the Australian Open since 1984, the French Open since 2002 (plus 1986 – 1993), and Wimbledon since 2003, with exclusivity for live television with all other rights extended in a 12-year agreement starting in 2012.

ESPN debuted September 7, 1979, and the first tennis telecast was exactly one week later, September 14, a Davis Cup tie, Argentina at U.S. from Memphis with Cliff Drysdale on the call and John McEnroe playing.

ESPN3, now in 85 million homes, carries every major global tennis event on the men’s and women’s circuit, including all four Grand Slam tournaments, every ATP World Tour 500 and ATP Masters 1000 event and WTA Premier events featuring all the top-seeded players.  Also, ESPN Classic shows great matches from the past and the sport receives extensive coverage on SportsCenter, ESPNEWS, Spanish-language ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio, and ESPN The Magazine.  ESPN 3D aired its first tennis at Wimbledon in 2011.

2013 French Open on ESPN2 & ESPN2 HD
Date Time (ET) Event
Sun, May 26 –  Fri, May 31 5 – 10 a.m. Early Round Action Live
Mon, June 3 5 – 10 a.m. Round of 16 Live
Tue, June 4 1 – 7 p.m. Quarterfinals Live & Same-day action
Wed, June 5 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Quarterfinals Live
Thur, June 6 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Women’s Semifinals Live

2013 French Open on ESPN3
Date Time (ET) Event
Sun, May 26 –  Fri, May 31 5 a.m. – 3 p.m. Early Round Action Live
Mon, June 3 5 a.m. – 3 p.m. Round of 16 Live
Tue, June 4 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. Quarterfinals Live
Wed, June 5 5 a.m. – 1 p.m. Quarterfinals Live
Thur, June 6 5 a.m. – 1 p.m. Men’s Doubles SemisWomen’s Semifinals Live

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