As promised, NCTC members who didn’t sign onto a new broader distribution deal by Sun lost Tennis Channel just after midnight. But Cablevision sports tier customers weren’t the only subscribers who lost the net during the US Open. Verizon FiOS is among the distributors now missing the channel. The telco sent out an email with the subject line, “Temporary Removal of Tennis Channel” and talks were said to be continuing between the two. Like Cablevision, it encouraged viewers to turn to CBS, ESPN and the USTA’s Website for US Open coverage.
On its Website, Tennis Channel displayed a message for affected viewers telling them to call their providers and ask for the net back or to switch to DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse or DISH.
Days before Tennis Channel’s NCTC deadline, Tennis chmn/CEO Ken Solomon held court with reporters. He spoke confidently about the channel’s programming and its non-linear future. Given its year-round content—amounting to about 100 tournaments a year, he said—and its combination of rights, he believes broad distribution is appropriate. The female demographic, for one, gets a lot of play. “You don’t see the kind of attention paid to female athletes in any other sport.” So logically, he added, it should have better distribution—when you account for 50% of the population.
On whether the channel is ready for over-the-top business models Solomon said, “We’re doing everything. We’re never counting out the cable groups. But I think we’re a winner.” He went on to characterize the channel as a “piece of content that’s prepared for the non-linear world. If over-the-top is easily accessible, we may not be the driver, but we’ll be a winner—whether traditional distribution or watching 6 matches at once. We’re ready for multistream, non-linear distribution if cord cutting happens tomorrow.” More in CableFAX Daily.