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Friday, March 7, 2014

The Sports Thread #1 For 3/7/14: The Televised Growth of Tennis' "6th Slam"


First off, I wanted to start this off with some well wishes and prayers for both Matt Cronin and Elena Baltacha, as both are now battling cancer. The tennis community is firmly behind them in their fights to rid of that awful disease for sure. Matt was unable to attend Indian Wells as he mentioned on his website, while Elena announced her terrible news today on her website.

Everybody certainly hope they pull through, with Matt saying on Twitter that his first surgery went well.

Onto better news is the perspective on the BNP Paribas Open, and how it is finally being televised early. For the first time ever, at least a portion of the first round is being broadcasted at Indian Wells, with a live pregame show to setup the day (on Tennis Channel/TennisTV, while BTSport at least in Britain has the WTA coverage) . This is something that should have happened a long time ago, even well before Ellison cemented his Oracle wealth and made it into arguably the best non-Slam event (more on that in a bit).

And not just the first three courts are being streamed, but even Stadium 4 gets the TV love, adding to the big step the tournament and both the ATP/WTA had made here (and needed to make).

Still, there are improvements to be made on the TV side, as all the courts should at least have a camera on them with the money Ellison has (new Stadium 2 and the two tents built with charging centers have been an outstanding edition).

But the first thing that needs to be done is to make sure the coverage starts when the main draw tournament begins, which is not Thursday but Wednesday. Although the cameras were fully on around the grounds for up to Stadium 6 on Wednesday, it still is strange that the tournament wanted to go globally live on Day 2, showing how Indian Wells still has a TV problem that tennis needs to get all the way straight, not 90% correct.

For both Indian Wells and Key Biscayne/Miami, it simply is unacceptable that the two biggest tournaments outside of the Grand Slams in the sport is not live from the get go, especially in this day and age of both online streaming and having a channel dedicated to tennis.

It always has been a joke that almost the first three or four days of both these 96-player tournaments has not been televised. (And globally Miami still has that problem, as most of their matches will be unavailable for the first four days of the tournament in two weeks time).

It simply is something that tennis keeps on harming itself with a problem that should easily be solved.  

(More to come at The Whole Delivery, including Day 3 coverage here in Indian Wells as well as other things).


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