Sunday, November 18, 2007

Television Coverage of the Tennis Masters Cup Final

It's a little past 3:00am Eastern Standard Time (when I started this blog entry). Being the tennis fan that I am, I stayed up late with the hopes of watching the Tennis Masters Cup final between Roger Federer and David Ferrer.

In theory, it was a great plan, until to my utter dismay, I realized there was no live television feed of this match on any Canadian channel. TSN and RDS had the rights to cover the Tennis Masters Cup final, but both channels were showing it on tape delay. Investigating further, the only US station that had this match live was ESPN Deportes, the Spanish version of ESPN. There was no live tennis on ESPN, ESPN2 (or any of its HD feeds) or even the Tennis Channel. With absolutely no offence to any Spanish viewers, surely there must have been other English and even French speaking tennis fans in North America who would have wanted to watch this match live!

What is more astonishing is to see what these stations were carrying instead of the Tennis Masters Cup final. Here's a list of what these stations, which had rights to carry singles action, ended up showing:

  • TSN - 2007 Montreal Supercross, an event that happened in late September 2007;
  • RDS - Sports 30, which is essentially the French version of SportsCentre;
  • ESPN - ESPN College Football Primetime, a repeat of the Saturday night college football game;
  • ESPN2 - Ford 300, a repeat of a NASCAR race that occured Saturday afternoon; and,
  • Tennis Channel (which didn't have the rights to the singles matches anyways) was showing infomercials.

Granted, with the Tennis Masters Cup being held in Shanghai, it is not the most ideal location in terms of time difference to match up with the North American TV viewing schedule. That said, surely the ATP's prestigious year-end event, which is suppose to showcase the best in men's singles tennis (I promise I'm not forgetting about doubles either), deserves to be shown live on at least one English speaking channel. Instead, all these North American channels (with the exception of ESPND) showed repeats and highlight shows. Yes, repeats and highlight shows!

To me, this is a clear demonstration of what is wrong with television coverage of tennis. When repeats and highlight shows are deemed to be more important than the Tennis Masters Cup finals, what hope does tennis being a 'must-see' live sporting event? Don't get me started on the US Open Men's final, which doesn't start at a specific time (e.g. 4:15 pm), but rather, starts when the television coverage of the NFL game ends (such that CBS can then switch over to tennis). If that NFL game goes to overtime, guess what event has to wait? It is really a shame that there is great coverage of tennis tournaments in the US Open Series over the summer, which is then followed up by tape delayed coverage of what is suppose to be the big year-end event.

Perhaps when the Tennis Masters Cup (to be renamed to the ATP World Tour Final) tournament moves to London in 2009, the live coverage situation for North American viewers will be more ideal. Surely, the ATP must have had this consideration in mind with this move.

Some will say that my rant is irrelevant because you could watch this match on ATP Masters Series TV, a site that streams some ATP tennis matches live for a fee. To me, while with TV broadcasting of live sports being in its infancy, it cannot be considered a replacement for what we can get today; a high or even a standard definition television feed over 'regular' television broadcast mediums, whether it is cable or satellite. Going the pay-per-view route, whether it is through the Internet or television is another move that won't win over too many tennis fans. Broadcasting sporting events over the Internet is definitely in our future, but let's not forget about about what we are capable of doing with television today.

That said, congratulations to Roger Federer, who defeated David Ferrer 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 to win the Tennis Masters Cup for the fourth time in five years. In addition, congratulations are also in order for Mark Knowles and Canadian Daniel Nestor, who won the doubles final over Simon Aspelin and Julian Knowle 6-2, 6-3 in what was the final match together for the winning team.

Hopefully, next year brings even better tennis and better television coverage for the ATP Tour.

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Anonymous said...

I couldn'r even watch the taped program. Although it was listed on every schedule I could find to be shown on Sunday at 0900 (PST), in fact ESPN2 showed the MLS Final which was simultaneously being shown on ABC.


Anonymous said...

Which channel is covering the 2008 tennis masters cup for men's singles? I've checked out the tennis channel and they're only covering the men's doubles.

arizbill said...

Apparently once again there is no TV coverage of the ATP Masters series for singles in the U. S. Only doubles. How come

Jason Tsang said...

See here for the Global TV broadcasters list for the 2008 Masters Cup

Global TV Broadcasters List

arizbill said...

Jason: Thanks for trying. But I think that is the site that ultimately led me to you.

Unfortunately if you check the link you'll see that the only schedule for the USA is for doubles only. I feel discriminated against when I see other countries getting singles TV coverage too. Is the world penalizing us for 8 years of the Bush presidency????? or are the Chinese penilzing us because we owe them so much money????

But anyway, thanks again to responding to my message. I'm bummed that I can't watch the mens year end final and my favorites didn't win the year end womens final.


Bill Carroll, oro valley arizona.

P. S. what country are you in?

Jason Tsang said...

Hi Bill, I live in Canada.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Jason Tsang for his tennis knowledge and his comments. His tirade was certainly not wasted on this aged tennis fan who was as upset as he was for missing the final. Somehow I found one of the semi-finals and was able to watch Dokovich (sp?) beat Murray, but was never able to locate the other semi-final or the final. If I had known that Federer was still alive in the contest I would have perhaps made an even greater effort to find the final sometplace. But the remarks on the semi-final that Murray had gained the semi by beating Roger, made me think he was out of it. Even though I'm old and retired, I have only limited time to spend trying to finding these tennis events that either the ATP or the Tennis channel is apparently not interested enough to keep us posted as to where we might find them. Had I known Federer was still in the running and known that it was available anywhere, even pay, for I probably would have bought it. Shame on ATP and the Tennis Channel and local Newspapers for not being interested enough in keeping the Tennis Public aware of what is happening. While I do appreciate having the Tennis Channel available (which I pay extra for), I am dissappointed that they did not carry it, and I'm dissaspointed that their listings do not show what tennis matches they are showing for the first time and which are repeats. I have a DVR which allows me to record these events. But it would be quite helpful if the programming on my cable network showed whether their broadcasts were repeat broadcasts of tournements already broadcast before. Particularly they should show if they were a this years events or from a prior year.

So many thanks to Jason for his "tirade" and hopefully some people at the tennis channel and at the ATP will take note of our comments and do a better job in keeping fans aware of what is available.

sincerely, arizbill