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.
tennis, Tennis Masters Cup, television