Today was the day The Tennis Channel had been looking for since last year. It was the day when it would finally televise its first major, the French Open, live back to the United States. After months of planning and hiring some of the best on-air tennis talent, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Bill Macatee and Ian Eagle. When the Tennis Channel signed on at 5 a.m. Eastern Time, it was ready to show off and it actually got to show some matches. However, four hours into coverage, rains started and wouldn’t stop. Instead of showing matches, The Tennis Channel had to resort to showing last year’s French Open Mens’ Final. It was just the thing that The Tennis Channel was hoping wouldn’t happen. In addition, the five channels that were to show matches on outside courts were just showing abandoned courts with the words, “Play Suspended” on the screen. And Ian Eagle just kept describing play from last year’s final. But as the Tennis Channel signed off, I noticed that the rains had stopped and it appeared that play was about to resume. In fact, Eagle said live play would resume on ESPN2.
I go over to ESPN2 at noon, in hopes of seeing some live tennis, but instead, ESPN2 decided to show the first set of Serena Williams’ first round match which had taken place earlier in the morning! As I went to the French Open’s website, the match was well into the second set. ESPN2 was resorting to NBC’s old trick by tape delaying matches. And just like The Tennis Channel before it, ESPN2 re-aired last year’s French Open Mens’ Final. I don’t know if this was policy by both channels, but it was rather annoying to see both channels airing this to fill time.
The Tennis Channel and ESPN2 are partners for The French Open, but if we’re going to see delayed matches on ESPN2 instead of live action, this is going to be bad for viewers. Then again, not everyone has the Tennis Channel, so if ESPN2 can bring more viewers to the party, then more power to the Alleged Worldwide Leader. However, this partnership may not be totally beneficial to viewers. We’ll keep an eye on it.