As I first reported on Twitter yesterday, Rogers Sportsnet is very close to signing a deal with the ATP to show Masters 1000 and 500-series tennis events this year. Most coverage will likely come from the international feed and air on Sportsnet One. Sportsnet takes over from TSN, who had aired the ATP events seemingly forever. This is great news for every tennis fan in Canada because it will mean more coverage of tennis on Canadian TV. Sportsnet One should have coverage of more than twenty ATP events. I hope that this coverage will include at least one of the Wimbledon tune-up events. We don’t get to see nearly enough grass-court tennis here in Canada.
Most importantly this deal includes cable rights to the first ever concurrent Rogers Cups in Montreal and Toronto. Sportsnet promises to bring complete coverage of these events and treat them like a Grand Slam. I’ll be honest, I was never the biggest fan of TSN’s coverage of the Rogers Cup, so hopefully Sportsnet can improve. Coverage of most events will air on Sportsnet One; however, the Rogers Cup will air entirely on the regional Sportsnet channels. This is also great news because in the past TSN has had to push coverage over to TSN2 because of things like the PGA Championship and Friday Night Football.
This could lead to something I had predicted quite a while ago, a sudden urge for Rogers to buy rights to events that eat up a lot of hours, like tennis and golf. Canadian rights for the Roland Garros Tennis Championships are also up for grabs this year and at this point I’d almost be surprised if Sportsnet doesn’t win the rights. I’ve always got the feeling that this is the event TSN hates carrying most because ESPN isn’t the primary rightsholder in the United States. As a result, Tennis Channel has live coverage throughout the morning, with ESPN only showing the last couple hours of live coverage and then taped coverage. This forces TSN to pick up the international feed because they refuse to use Tennis Channel’s coverage for whatever reason. I would also like to see Sportsnet pick up the Davis Cup, but I’m not getting my hopes up too high on that. Some WTA events would be nice too.
I will have the full ATP on Rogers Sportsnet schedule listed in the tennis schedule very soon.