Re: News confirmed: No tennis on Eurosport in 2013 outside the slams
I think it's worth reviewing what the possible outcomes are for the WTA rights sale in the UK...
From scanning through this thread I know that one member is adamant it's a done deal for BT Vision and that others are concerned this would restrict viewing to those with a BT Vision box.
With their recent acquisition of Premier League football and Aviva Premiership rugby it's unthinkable that they would restrict their nascent sports channel to their own platform. They're paying the Premier League £9 per match for every subscriber they already have and that's before they've started actually selling subs to the new channel.
The truth is they need to roll the channel out to as many platforms as possible for it to make economic sense, so expect it to be available on Sky and Virgin for around £10 per month. It's also unlikely that at a time when the WTA is trying to expand the reach of the sport they would restrict it to such a small audience as BT Vision's platform offers.
There is one significant concern that comes with BT Vision showing WTA matches - Aviva Premiership match times often clash with WTA semi-finals and finals. A big problem when you only have one channel. Most of their football matches are Saturday lunchtimes, so that's not such an issue.
Incidentally, someone queried who the hell has BT Vision. It's mostly people in flats who can't get Sky or Virgin.
While this would reduce access to people with Sky Sports subscriptions, there's little doubt that Sky would do a great job. In particular they have they the advantage of multiple channels and red button functionality, a definite advantage given many tourneys will have two televised courts next year, something that would be wasted on BT Vision.
Someone suggested that Sky wouldn't touch WTA because of their ATP rights. I don't buy this argument. The question for Sky is whether they believe adding WTA to their profile will get more people watching Sky Sports and how much of the cost can be offset by advertising. I think it's a borderline case and they might be tempted to swallow a loss on them if it prevented someone else from having them.
With the loss of the rugby and the football, they're desperate for new sports to add to their portfolio, unless of course they decide it's just not worth carrying on without them. These were probably the most expensive rights they held, so it's not beyond the realms of possibility they might ditch their subscription model altogether and take the Eurosport route - something which would appeal to the WTA in terms of reach.
One thing we do know is that they definitely have an interest in tennis after picking up various peripheral events this year and I'm pretty sure they would jump at the chance to take the WTA altogether if the price was right.
They could probably do decent coverage, in HD, with ESPN Classics a useful backup channel to show either a second court or centre court if another event takes precedence on the main channel.
I really can't see beyond the above options. ITV dipped its toe into tennis this year but I can't imagine them re-working their schedules for the huge screen time needed to cover the sport. The BBC doesn't have room for it, Virgin doesn't have a sports channel and other satellite/cable players lack the resources.
The doomsday scenario is that nobody takes the rights, in which case we'll all just have to subscribe to TennisTV.com.
One thing's for sure. We'll be able to watch WTA next year. The only question is how much we'll have to pay.