Record ratings for Roland Garros coverage

June 6, 2012

PARIS — In its sixth year of televising the most prestigious clay-court competition in the world, Tennis Channel has seen record ratings during its first week of French Open coverage. From the period of Sunday, May 27, through Saturday, June 2, the network’s live match coverage averaged a 0.61 rating according to Nielsen Media Research, or 319,738 homes, up 17 percent from 2011’s 0.52 average. The daily premiere of prime-time news, interview and analysis show French Open Tonight also established new highs, exceeding 2011’s performance by 51 percent every day, and is averaging a 0.52 rating vs. last year’s 0.35 for the first seven days, equal to 272,563 homes.

Equally as impressive are the milestone numbers associated with the first-round upset of star Serena Williams on Tuesday, May 29. The match’s 1.02 rating was good for first place among all cable networks in Tennis Channel’s household coverage area and averaged 533,170 homes during the time period. Peaking at a 1.60 rating, the match generated more than one million viewers at its height, and is the highest-rated early round tournament play in network history. The Williams match is not the only pole propping up the network’s ratings canopy, however, as ratings in matches played by Maria Sharapova (0.95), Victoria Azarenka (0.84) and John Isner (0.68 – No. 2 in coverage area), pointed to sustained, weeklong viewer demand.

“Before Tennis Channel there were just a few French Open matches on television each day, and now this tournament has coverage around the clock,” said Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO, Tennis Channel. “There’s been a real paradigm shift in how this event is televised, which has since spread to every major. Additionally, we’ve worked with ESPN2 and NBC to build this great integrated distribution chain of networks that promote each other’s schedules and share production needs, equipment, a common vision and, in some cases, great on-air talent members. It’s proof that the more you put tennis on TV, the more viewers will watch.”

Tennis Channel likely has also benefitted from an adjusted schedule this year that makes things easier for viewers, who are not required to switch between channels as often as in the first five years of the network’s French Open involvement, and as such enjoy a more seamless experience.

French Open Tonight, hosted by Bill Macatee, typically follows Tennis Channel’s nine-hour block of daily tournament coverage and is then repeated twice throughout the night, taking viewers right up to the eve of the following day’s play.

Also, with coverage at the French Open and three other tennis majors – Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open – an annual part of Tennis Channel’s lineup since 2009, the independent network is more widely expected to be a part of the on-air process at these competitions. The network also expands its reach to 55 million homes through free previews, making it more accessible than at most times of the year, when it is limited to 34 million homes.

In all, Tennis Channel is televising close to 60 hours of live matches during this year’s French Open and more than 140 match hours overall, with 36 first-run hours of French Open Tonight and 114 total, via encores. In addition to more than 250 hours of total television coverage, the network is dedicating more than 300 hours to live online matches during the two-week event.

Tennis Channel ( 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 to the US Open, Wimbledon, Roland Garros (French Open), Australian Open, Olympus US Open Series, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, top-tier WTA competitions, Davis Cup and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, and Hyundai Hopman Cup. Tennis Channel is carried by nine of the top 10 video providers.