Monday
Aug242009

Tennis Channel Keeps Swinging In Heated U.S. Open Marketing Rivalry 

The Statue of Liberty takes a swing in Tennis Channel spot.August 24, 2009: The Statue of Liberty stars alongside Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and the Williams Sisters in a new spot to support Tennis Channel's coverage of the 2009 U.S. Open. Tennis Channel, which covers the sport and associated lifestyle 24/7, is airing the spot on its own network, then will expand the media buy to cable partners Aug. 30 through the tournament's conclusion on Sept. 13. Spend was not disclosed, but Tennis Channel said the spot, from BPG, Los Angeles, is part of the most "extensive and ambitious multiplatform promotional campaign" in its history. Support will include billboards and radio in the New York market, print in The New York Times, Internet; and retail tie-ins with McWilliam's wine, Cal-Giant and Food Emporium.

Tennis Channel this month ran a U.S. Open-related print ad with an entirely different attitude, centering on the heated battle that has led to its not having carriage agreements with such operators as AT&T, Cable One and Cablevision Systems in New York, blatantly stating, "Thanks for nothing Cablevision . . . You've dropped the ball by preventing your subscribers from seeing Tennis Channel's round-the-clock coverage of the U.S. Open." A photo shows a tennis racket smashing a cable box.

Cablevision responded with one ad that called Tennis Channel's ad "nasty, unfair and intentionally misleading" and another for its iO TV system that read, "Don't be mislead. The best place to watch the U.S. Open is on iO TV [with more than] 130 hours of America's best tennis."

Tennis Channel is carried nationwide by such operators as Bright House Networks, Comcast, Cox Communications, RCN and Time Warner Cable. Tennis Channel coverage will also be available during the U.S. Open to subscribers of Dish Network, DirecTV and Verizon Communications FiOS TV.

Rafael Nadal is among the stars featured in Tennis Channel's U.S. Open ad.The new spot, "Air," shows such tennis stars as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and Venus and Serena Williams in action, but with their images soaring over landmarks in New York. Played out to Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis" and "Ode to Joy," the spot includes a CGI shot of the Statue of Liberty swinging a tennis racquet, and concludes with all of the players superimposed on center court at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. A voiceover states, "The 2009 U.S. Open, Round the clock coverage starts Aug. 31, no on Tennis Channel."

The spot can be viewed online in 3D using the appropriate glasses. This is the first year that Tennis Channel, founded in 2003, will be covering all four tennis Grand Slam events. Investors include former tennis stars Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. The 2009 U.S. Open also will be shown on ESPN2 (taking over from long-time broadcast partner USA Network) and CBS.

"Every aspect of Tennis Channel's approach to its inaugural US Open coverage is designed to reflect the drama, energy and supreme athleticism that takes place at the tournament each summer," Robyn Miller, svp-marketing for Tennis Channel, said in a statement. "BPG brought that vision to life for this campaign. The promotional spot more than delivers, offering an unforgettable taste of one of the greatest events in all of sports as it joins our lineup."

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