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The Tennis Channel's Long Awaited Debut Scheduled for May!

April 16, 2003 02:56 PM

The Tennis Channel, the 24-hour cable network devoted to providing comprehensive coverage of tennis and other racquet sports, will launch Thursday, May 15, following a special nineteen day “Sneak Preview” that begins April 26.

The nineteen day "Sneak Preview" starting on April 26 will kick off with coverage of the opening round of the 2003 Fed Cup competition. Coached by Billie Jean King, this year's American team features Venus and Serena Williams, Meghan Shaughnessy and Alexandra Stevenson. The Tennis Channel will televise the American's opening round tie versus the Czech Republic live from Lowell, MA, April 26-27, 2003.

Their official full-scale launch showcases live coverage of the ATP Tour’s prestigious Tennis Masters Series Hamburg championship from Germany May 15-18. Fourth-round action begins Thursday, May 15 at 6 a.m. ET/3 a.m. PT. The championship final will be seen live Sunday, May 18, at 8 a.m. ET/5 a.m. PT. The matches throughout the tournament will be repeated for primetime viewing.


While Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) systems will form the basis of The Tennis Channel’s initial rollout, viewers are encouraged to contact their local cable or satallite provider for availability. If The Tennis Channel is not served in your local area, it is important to ask your provider to carry it IMMEDIATELY! Only with the help from tennis fans around the nation will The Tennis Channel increase its coverage area.

“Our May 15th launch is a momentous occasion for tennis fans and the entire sport,” says The Tennis Channel Chairman and CEO David Meister. “Whether you are a weekend player or a dedicated viewer or just a fan of the charismatic personalities, you will love the way The Tennis Channel brings you closer to the game.”

“Tennis has great stars playing at an incredibly high level. Now The Tennis Channel fulfills our dreams, and the dreams of millions of fans by providing a 24-hour destination for the sport,” says The Tennis Channel President and Founder Steve Bellamy. “Additionally, we are pleased to welcome a new group of blue chip investors to add to the financial strength of the network.”

New Investment
As the network gears up for its May launch, it also announces additional funding. The Tennis Channel’s investment group is now a powerful combination of media industry leaders and tennis’ greatest stars plus Wall Street’s finest. Its co-leads are Apollo Partners, whose principals are Terry Elkes and Ken Gorman, and DND Capital Partners LLC, whose principals are Philippe Dauman and Tom Dooley. The team also features: Bain Capital Ventures, the investment arm of Bain Capital; Battery Ventures; Columbia Capital; JP Morgan Partners whose primary limited partner is JP Morgan Chase & Co., one of the largest financial institutions in the U.S. and a leading sponsor of the U.S. Open Tennis Championship; Waterview Advisors, with senior managing director Frank Biondi; EdsLink LLC, whose principals are Ed and Debbie Horowitz; and the company’s senior management. Tennis all-time greats Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi are also investors in the network. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“The Tennis Channel’s progress to date has been outstanding,” says Philippe Dauman, co-chairman and CEO of DND Capital Partners LLC, which was among The Tennis Channel’s initial investor group. “We now bring to this venture a powerful investment group that has extensive industry and financial acumen, and we welcome our new partners into the fold.”

Jeff Patterson, partner at Columbia Capital says: “As an investment opportunity, The Tennis Channel truly stood out. The network is a rich concept with enormous potential, developed by an astute and enthusiastic management group, and we are happy to join the team at this important stage.”

Initial Distribution
Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) systems will form the basis of The Tennis Channel’s initial distribution rollout. Cable television homes served by these companies represent 47 percent of U.S. cable households. The company projects more than 3 million subscribers at or near launch and in excess of 10-12 million a year later.

“The Tennis Channel is staking claim to a specific programming and target audience niche,” says Bob Wilson, vice president of programming for Cox Communications. “We believe it will enhance the value to our customers of subscribing to Cox video services.”

“We salute The Tennis Channel on its launch,” says Fred Dressler, executive vice president of programming for Time Warner Cable. “This is exactly the kind of network to help drive our digital distribution, and our systems are eager to provide it to their subscribers.”

Original Programming Enhances Schedule
The launch of The Tennis Channel also marks the debut of two of the network’s half-hour original series -- “No Strings,” featuring behind-the-scenes access to the game’s most spectacular stars, and “Center Court with Chris Myers,” showcasing in-depth interviews with the tennis industry’s most compelling personalities. A variety of instructional programs, classic matches and other tennis-related personality and lifestyle shows will round out the programming lineup.

“The combination of its compelling stars and their distinctive athletic grace make tennis a sport that is ideal for television,” says Bruce Rider, The Tennis Channel’s executive vice president of programming and marketing and executive producer. “We’re going to capture all this excitement and take fans inside the game in a way that has never been done before.”

About The Tennis Channel
The Tennis Channel is a 24-hour cable television network devoted to tennis and other racquet sports that provides unparalleled coverage of the game, its elite championships and superstar athletes. The network features around-the-clock coverage of major tournaments including ATP Tour, WTA Tour, Fed Cup, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and Hyundai Hopman Cup competition and the European element of the Tennis Masters Series. The network also showcases instruction from the finest teachers, legendary matches, in-depth profiles of the greatest players, analysis and news, the latest on equipment and tennis getaways. The Tennis Channel’s investment group includes media industry leaders, blue chip Wall Street investors, and tennis greats Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. The Tennis Channel’s Web site is located at
www.thetennischannel.com.

 

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