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TSN offers 220 hours of the Australian Open, coffee not included: Mudhar


With Milos Raonic and Genie Bouchard coming off good showings in tune-up events for the Australian Open — Raonic won in Brisbane, Bouchard reached the final in Hobart — Canadian tennis fans enter Grand Slam season with renewed optimism about our biggest stars. And TSN continues to bet big on the sport.

The broadcaster promises more than 220 hours of coverage of the Slam down under, and more than 1,600 hours of combined live coverage of the four Grand Slams.

According to Shawn Redmond, TSN’s vice-president of programming and marketing, tennis is one of the sports that greatly benefits from the broadcaster’s expanded feed, or what he refers to as the “TSN multiplex.”

“As we built our strategy around the expansion of our channels, tennis was a property that really jumped out that would benefit from the expanded real estate we would have from the five channels,” he explains. “Tournament organizers and their broadcast partners are producing multiple courts all day long, so these guys are producing more and more each day, and we want to give that choice to our viewers.”

Beyond what’s on the air, most of the early-round games will also be available on TSN’s tablet apps, allowing fans of, say, Stan (The Man) Wawrinka to watch his entire journey. The audiences on those streams is likely miniscule, but the breadth of coverage is amazing.

Redmond says the feeds will be similarly used for the Masters, giving viewers multiple options to follow the tournament.

The rise of strong Canadian contenders has provided some of the highest ratings tennis has ever enjoyed in Canada, and it will be interesting to see just how high things could go. Some of Bouchard’s matches over the past few years have flirted around the million-viewer mark, culminating in the highest-rated female tennis match last year, Bouchard’s loss to Sharapova in the Aussie Open semifinals, which averaged more than 1 million viewers, with 2.7 Canadians watching at least a portion of that match. That was an 80 per cent increase over the quarterfinal match from the year before.

There is also the issue of timing. The Bouchard-Sharapova match last year started at 9 p.m. Early-round coverage this year starts at 7 p.m. and will kick off with 12 hours of live coverage, mostly on TSN 2 and 4. While the coverage runs through prime time, there will be plenty of matches in the middle of the night. And if the Canadians somehow manage to make it to the finals, those matches start at 3 a.m., which depending on your perspective is what strong coffee or PVRs are made for.

TSN also picked up the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Series and the 500 Series, the top tournaments outside of the Grand Slams. Those events will allow fans to watch Raonic and Vasek Pospisil through the rest of the season, while hoping even more Canadian talent will emerge.

TORONTO STAR | SPORTS

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