Tennis Channel president Ken Solomon was sitting in his office on the grounds of the French Open in Paris six weeks ago when, rifling through some press coverage of the network, he proudly showed a blurb from a story that proclaimed the net "the future of television."
When it comes to tennis, the future is heavily on the minds of television execs these days. It's not a stretch to say that televised tennis is at its most critical point in decades. During the past 18 months, a number of new rights deals have rezoned the landscape. Digital platforms are providing new content and fan opportunities (though the monetization prospects are less clear). And for the first time in years, the men's game finally is generating some top-tier rivalries -- and rivalries always are a ratings savior.
As the sport's banner weekend, the Wimbledon finals, begins, the question hangs in the air like a high baseline lob: Will all these changes return tennis to widespread popularity -- or cement its status as a niche sport whose main appeal lies only with its high-income demos?
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