Attention gripers: ESPN feels your pain
Tennis Trying to Improve Its Marketing
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 6:15 p.m. ET
PARIS (AP) -- Tennis is trying to improve the marketing of the game.
``We've got to take the sport more mainstream. The sport still has the perception of being a niche, country club sport,'' Arlen Kantarian, the U.S. Tennis Association's chief executive for pro tennis, said Wednesday.
``Attendance is relatively OK, but the TV ratings need improvement.''
Officials from the Grand Slam tournaments are meeting with players' representatives during the French Open, and marketing was one item discussed.
Through seven telecasts on ESPN, the French Open is averaging a cable rating of 0.7, the same as last year. That means 0.7 percent of homes with ESPN have tuned in.
By comparison, the network's 126 regular-season men's college basketball games averaged a 0.9 rating, and its NBA playoffs coverage averaged 2.4.
``TV is still the hallmark of success in any sport,'' Kantarian said. ``Other than the Slams, tennis has not had its fair shake on TV in the United States.''
He thinks one way to get more attention is through more ``combined tournaments,'' seven- or eight-day events with men and women playing at the same site. The long-term aim is to put such tourneys in Los Angeles, Cincinnati and possibly elsewhere.
Kantarian envisions a late-summer series of combined events leading up to the U.S. Open.
``We would like to use the U.S. Open as a lynchpin to secure more interest for these other tournaments,'' he said, acknowledging the current state of the economy ``makes it more challenging.''
BARBIEis coming for your towel, too.