Tennis Channel Eyes ’09 U.S. Open

NEW YORK The Tennis Channel is planning a great U.S. Open run-not at this year’s tournament, which starts today, but next year’s, for which the network boasts broadcast rights and a few new advertisers.

The channel will share the 2009 broadcast with ESPN and CBS, taking over from USA Networks. Armed with new research about its upper-income viewers (their median household income starts at $82,754), it has signed up advertisers like US Bank, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson and luxury goods seller Longines, said svp of ad sales Gary Herman.

Research showed close to 15 million viewers followed last year’s U.S. Open from the first week on USA to the finals on CBS. “While it is less than one-quarter of the 70 million total audience [including CBS-only] … they were more than twice as likely to reside in homes with household incomes over $125,000 than lighter or more casual viewers,” said vp of research Phil Duddy.

“It has smaller viewership,” said Longines U.S. brand manager Jennifer Judkins. “But because it’s so targeted, it’s a much better value for us.”

The Tennis Channel now has broadcast rights for all four slams — the U.S., Australian and French Opens, plus Wimbledon.