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Tennis channel to broadcast Major League Pickleball tournament matches

by SuperiorInvest

The tennis channel includes the cucumber.

Major League Pickleball announced Thursday that the cable channel will air the semifinals and finals of the league’s top-level tournament in Mesa, Ariz., and will make all tournament games available for streaming. The partnership marks a deepening of the relationship between professional pickleball and the television network.

Pickleball has skyrocketed in popularity, with more than Last year, 36 million Americans played the sport. Now Tennis Channel is poised to capitalize on this surge.

“We went from one pickleball event in 2021, we had a pretty full year of coverage in 2022, and it’s going to escalate significantly in 2023,” Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon told CNBC. “We have big plans.

Solomon said the network is uniquely positioned to broadcast pickleball after 20 years of broadcasting tennis.

“We have all the infrastructure in place and all the human capital and people creating the story for the engineers,” he said.

Solomon said the network can go pickleball “literally with the flip of a switch.” And he said the sport is “hot as hell”.

The longtime Tennis Channel executive said pickleball has already seen a very natural overlap with existing tennis sponsors. He’s not worried about the pickleball cannibalizing the sport that was his bread and butter.

Brian Levine, interim CEO of Major League Pickleball, agrees that the two sports can be mutually beneficial.

“I think there’s a misconception that there’s competition between tennis and pickleball,” Levine told CNBC. “I think it’s actually a complement.

The vast majority of MLP professionals come from a tennis background. Many current and former tennis players have invested in professional pickleball, including Naomi OsakaJames Blake, Kim Clijsters, Sam QuerreyNick Kyrgios and Lindsay Davenport.

For the Tennis Channel audience, Levine thinks the fast-paced action of pickleball will help attract new fans to the sport. He noted that during professional MLP matches, the ball is in action about 40% of the time, compared to 16% in professional tennis matches.

Tennis Channel, created in 2003 and owned by the company Sinclair Broadcasting Groupmade his first deal with Professional Pickleball Association in 2021 to broadcast various events and tournaments.

The network has since aired a special trailer celebrity exhibition in Dallas, featuring sports legends such as Tony Romo, Jordan Spieth and John Isner First ever MLP design in Las Vegas, where the league revealed the team lineups.

Solomon said pickleball has already brought strong ratings to his network.

“What we’ve seen all the time is a real focus, a real meet and greet type of pickleball watching. Rated very, very well,” he said.

The network is pushing streaming and making its product available internationally with a subscription service called International Tennis Channel launching in 2020. Adding pickleball games to the streaming lineup is at best a boost to content at a time when linear TV is stagnant.

MLP said it has not finalized broadcast deals outside of the tournament in Mesa, Arizona, but is actively negotiating them.

Solomon would not comment on his network’s future plans with MLP, but said, “We strongly believe that having dedicated destinations is a virtue. We’ve proven it.”

Also Thursday, the professional pickleball circuit announced the league’s final two teams and their respective ownership groups for the 2023 season, which begins Jan. 26: St. The Louis Shock will be led by businessman Richard Chaifetz with his son, Ross Chaifetz, head of team operations; and Orlando Squeeze in Florida will be led by Ryan DeVos, who has more than 30 years of experience owning the NBA’s Orlando Magic.

NFL free agent Odell Beckham Jr. will join the team’s ownership group in Washington, D.C., the league said.

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