We’ll always have Paris, the line from Casablanca goes, but The Tennis Channel didn’t, acquiring rights to The French Open just last year. Regardless, two weeks of coverage from Stade Roland Garros was the first Grand Slam tournament carried on the network, and Tennis Channel wasn’t about to let that historic moment slip the minds of affiliates or their subs. The key to Tennis’ campaign was to infect affiliates with an acute case of French Open bug.

You say "Paris," and many Americans think of the Eiffel Tower, romance and French food. The Tennis Channel took advantage of those associations when thinking of ways to set the mood for its two-minute French Open sizzle reel. Just before showing the short film to affiliates and other partners, Tennis set the stage by serving crepes and playing French-themed music.

With those props adding to the nostalgia, the video, loaded with street scenes, fabulous shots of wine, Paris’ beautiful people and tennis clips couldn’t fail but bring about a severe case of French Open influenza. The sickness spread rapidly throughout Tennis Channel affiliates as they were given a taste of what their subscribers could expect from more than 100 hours of live coverage on the network, plus the nightly recap show Roland Garros Tonight. The video drove home the point that The French Open is a major event, on and off the court, and would boost affiliates’ digital business.

For the record, Tennis Channel showed mercy on its affiliates, informing them that the only known cure for French Open bug was that the patient must vigorously promote tournament coverage with cross-channel inventory and other spots.

The effort worked, as some 52 million viewers watched Tennis’ coverage of the French, besting the 40 million viewer target. Cable ops and DBS promised 250 cross-channel spots, but ended up doubling that commitment.

Fast Facts

  • Tennis Channel created an entire campaign around its initial French Open coverage, dubbing it Play on the Clay. The clay in question is the reddish brown surface at Roland Garros. The Open is considered the most prestigious clay event in the world.

  • So much buzz was created by Play on the Clay campaign and Open coverage that the channel was launched in Chicago, Charleston and on DirecTV.


Honorable Mentions:

Scientific-Atlanta’s Consumers Do Love Their DVRs — To promote the benefits of DVRs to consumers, Cisco’s S-A tapped research that said consumers most trust people like themselves. The result was a YouTube collage of interviews with random consumers about DVRs.

WWE’s Are You WWE’s Biggest Fan? — To tout its SummerSlam PPV event and Comcast’s Ziddio site, WWE ran a contest for user generated videos from its passionate fans. Ziddio registered more than 1 million views as fans voted for their favorite entry.

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