Written by: Michael Emmett
***Michael Emmett is the Director of Tennis Operations at all Mayfair clubs. He is a certified Tennis Canada Coach 3 with a Journalism degree from the University of Texas. Michael spent several years working in sports television at TSN and Sportsnet. Michael is a former National champion who finished his last year of junior tennis ranked #1 in Canada. Michael has coached several National champions when he worked for the All-Canadian Academy at the National Tennis Centre at York University in the early 90s. Michael spent 2 years traveling the world playing the ATP tour satellite circuit as a member of the Molson National Team in 1985 and ’86.***
When it comes to programming decisions by TSN (Canada’s so-called Sports television leader), not showing the men’s semi-final live is the worst in their 28-year history. Thank Goodness I purchased satellite radio a few months ago; this allowed me the good fortune to at least listen to this contest as it happened. Imagine being the rights-holder for the NFL and not showing the AFC or NFC championship game – as silly as this seems it simply would not and could not happen. But the equivalent in tennis took place Sunday. Speaking of the NFL – this is what TSN2 chose to broadcast (Washington vs. New Orleans), even though the majority of fans could watch this game on another channel (FOX). By not showing the tennis – fans across Canada had no access to this great 4-set encounter. From this point forward, I’m not sure what action should be taken, but as a tennis fan I will not leave it alone.
Sunday’s semi-final between Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer was not broadcast by anybody in Canada. And TSN is to blame. It’s an open and shut case – TSN opted for other programming when they should have shown the tennis. Other networks – in Canada – were not allowed to broadcast the match because TSN is the Canadian rights-holder. Considering they aired up to 10 hours a day for the 2-week event, and then made the conscious decision to ignore the men’s semi final should be grounds for losing this coveted contract. This is a massive error that should be reprimanded with a consequence. Unfortunately, for all tennis fans across the country, our friends at TSN will not even be spoken to about this egregious error and will be allowed to continue broadcasting tennis at future grand slams down the road. I’m sure they have all kinds of reasons for not showing this important semi-final. Quite frankly, I don’t really care what they are, this match HAD to be shown and other programming should have been put on the back-burner. If TSN wants to televise major tennis events – they must show the matches that matter.
TSN – as the rights-holder for the US Open Tennis Championships – has an obligation to show this match no matter what else is going on. With TSN and now TSN2, they had ample space to get the match on one of these two channels. Schedules change, rainouts occur with regularity, and networks adapt to all kinds of scenarios. However, this time, TSN gets an F for letting every tennis fan down across Canada. This is a programming error we should not soon forget. TSN has done this before, but not on this big a stage.
ESPN 2 – the primary broadcaster in the United States – showed the match live at 11am. All TSN had to do was piggyback on this match. But they chose to ignore it. Hoping nobody would notice. I understand that TSN is at the mercy of ESPN or CBS for all of its tennis television coverage. ESPN has done everything in its power to make their tennis broadcasts spectacular. And they have passed the test with flying colors. ESPN made the correct decision Sunday. It was the only decision that made sense. They had other programming that needed to be bumped in order to get this match on the airways, and they made it happen. The same can’t be said for TSN. Other countries were faced with the same problems but somehow Canada was the ONLY nation that did not see this Djokovic four set win. Rogers Sportsnet has five channels – this deplorable blunder would not have happened if Sportsnet had the Grand Slam tennis contract. I think it’s time for TSN to read the writing on the wall – they can’t handle all the programming and need to recognize this. TSN should be forced to say “goodbye” to tennis forever.