2:44pm PT by Kate Stanhope
Sinclair Broadcast Group Serves Up $350 Million for Tennis Channel
Tennis Channel has found a new home court.
In a $350 million deal, Sinclair Broadcast Group has agreed to purchase the network, it was announced Wednesday.
Tennis Channel, which includes established over-the-top subscription services TC Plus and TV Everywhere, holds rights to 90 percent of all the televised tennis in the U.S. and boasts comprehensive coverage including the top 100 tournaments in the sport, including the U.S. Open, Wimbledon and more. The Sinclair deal will increase Tennis Channel's reach to 50 million homes, up from 30 million.
The network was first launched in 2003 and is owned by The Tennis Channel, Inc., a group of investors that includes sports marketing firm IMG as well as former tennis champions Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. Original series on Tennis Channel include 100 Greatest of All Time, Celebrity Tennis and Destination Tennis, among others.
“Tennis Channel is an established property with high-quality content and advertisers, and is vastly under-compensated and under-distributed relative to the value it brings to its viewers," Sinclair president-CEO David Smith said in a statement. "It was the only independently-owned major sports network left, and we knew we could unlock value through a tuck-in acquisition,”
Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon will continue to be involved with the channel under the Sinclair deal, which is expected to close during the first quarter of 2016.
“In Sinclair we have found the perfect owner-partner to accelerate scaling the Tennis Channel brand and our sport’s expanding fan-base to the next level,” said Solomon. “Our management team is more excited than ever about the future for Tennis Channel under Sinclair’s ownership and anxious to grow as part of such a visionary and transformative company. This is a great day for both the professional sport and the amateur tennis community and most importantly for the viewers we serve.”
Sinclair is the nation's largest owner of local TV outlets with 164 stations. The company has been seeking ways to control more of the content it broadcasts. Meanwhile, Tennis Channel continues to compete with heavy hitters in the sports arena like Fox Sports 1 and ESPN.
Sinclair's interest in acquiring Tennis Channel was first reported back in September.