ESPN Signs Multiplatform Deal With WTA

BRISTOL, CONN.: ESPN has signed a six-year agreement with the Women’s Tennis Association to carry live coverage of its events across ESPN’s multiple platforms. ESPN says the deal “solidifies ESPN3, ESPN’s live multiscreen sports network, as the premier destination for every major global tennis event on the men’s and women’s circuit in the United States.”

Jason Bernstein, ESPN’s senior director of programming and acquisitions, had this to say:“This new agreement with the WTA says a lot about the power of ESPN’s multi-platform scale and its ability to serve passionate tennis fans. We have a long history with professional tennis in our 32 years, and now we are slated to carry all the top-tier tennis events from around the world across our networks.”

The deal includes rights to season-long WTA matches as well as the following events:
TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships: Championships singles final from Istanbul on ESPN2 and ESPN3, with round robin and semifinals coverage on ESPN3. WTA Premier Events: Live coverage of more than 70 matches from 11 events on ESPN3, including early round matches and select quarterfinals between January-October annually.

Coverage begins today with the TEB-BNP Paribas WTA Championships live from Istanbul. ESPN3’s live coverage will feature select round robin matches, both semifinals and the final on Sunday, Oct. 30, at 11 a.m. ET. ESPN2 will provide television coverage of the final at 1 p.m. Players featured in the Championship include top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, Li Na, Vera Zvonareva, Samantha Stosur and Agnieszka Radwanska.

The WTA is the governing body of the global circuit of women’s professional tennis events (with the exception of the Grand Slams and Fed Cup) and features the top-ranked women’s players in the world. This year marks the 41st edition of the Championships. The Championships consists of the top eight singles players and top four doubles teams, competing for $5 million in prize money and the year-end No. 1 rankings.

With today’s deal, ESPN3 adds 150 live hours of women’s tennis each year to its programming slate. The network now carries all four Grand Slam tournaments, all ATP World Tour 500 and ATP Masters 1000 events--including Indian Wells and Miami--the WTA Premier events, and the season-ending championships of both tours--the TEB-BNP Paribas WTA Championships and Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

In 2011, tennis on ESPN3 accounted for over 2,750 live hours, including more than 2,200 exclusive hours. ESPN’s 2011 tennis schedule of more than 585 televised hours is highlighted by all four Grand Slam events.