Tennis on NBC
|Tennis on NBC|
|Presented by||See list of commentators|
|Theme music composer||Clark Gault (opening theme)
Keith Mansfield (end theme)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||60|
|Executive producer(s)||Don Ohlmeyer|
|Running time||180 minutes or until tournament ends|
|Production company(s)||NBC Sports|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV),
|Original release||1955-1961 (US Nationals)
Tennis on NBC is the de facto branding used for broadcasts of major professional tennis tournaments that are produced by NBC Sports, the sports division of the NBC television network in the United States. The network has broadcast tennis events since 1955.
The network's tennis coverage normally airs during the afternoon; however for several weeks in the summer, its Sunday coverage during the morning hours of Grand Slam tennis tournaments may start as early as 8:00 a.m., resulting in the pre-emption of regular programming on that day (such as the political talk show Meet the Press).
NBC's relationship with tennis actually dates as far back as August 9, 1939. While at the the amateur Eastern Grass Court Championships, in Rye, New York, NBC broadcast the first ever televised tennis match. NBC made history again at the 1955 Davis Cup, where they televised the first tennis match (United States vs. Australia) in color.
US Nationals coverage
NBC broadcast the US Nationals as early as 1955 and at least up until 1961. Bud Palmer, Jack Kramer, Lindsey Nelson, Don Budge, Bill Stern and Bill Talbert were among the commentators during this period.
NBC broadcast The Championships, Wimbledon beginning 1969. Americans had made a tradition of NBC's "Breakfast at Wimbledon" specials during the tournament on weekends, in which live coverage (which under the guidance of then-NBC Sports executive producer Don Ohlmeyer and associate producer Bob Basche, began in 1979 for the men's rounds and in 1982 for the women) started early in the morning (as the Eastern Time Zone in the United States is five hours behind the United Kingdom) and continued well into the afternoon, interspersed with commentary and interviews from Bud Collins, whose tennis acumen and patterned trousers are well-known to tennis fans in the United States. Collins was fired by NBC in 2007, but was promptly hired by ESPN, which holds the Wimbledon cable rights. For many years, NBC's primary host was Dick Enberg, who called his 28th and final Wimbledon in 2011.
The 2011 tournament marked the 43rd and final year of NBC's coverage. NBC issued a statement saying it had been outbid for the rights to future broadcasts, and beginning with the 2012 tournament, all live coverage moved exclusively to ESPN. Wimbledon became the second tennis Grand Slam event (after the Australian Open) to air live coverage in the United States exclusively on pay television, although replays of the tournament finals have aired on broadcast network ABC.
French Open coverage
NBC's coverage of the French Open began in 1975. Other than a three-year stint for the tournament on CBS, NBC has remained the U.S. broadcast television home of the French Open since 1983. The network shows weekend morning early-round matches in the afternoon on tape-delay; however, if a match is still being played, it will televise the match live. NBC's current deal for the tournament does not allow ESPN2 or Tennis Channel to show NBC's tape-delayed matches. NBC also tape-delays the men's semifinal, broadcasting it in the late morning on the same day, however it broadcasts both finals live.
On August 5, 2012, NBC announced it had extended its broadcast agreement through 2024. Under the terms of this new deal, NBC would broadcast an additional ten hours of live coverage, including matches on Memorial Day and the women's semifinals. With the United States Tennis Association (USTA) agreeing to an eleven-year deal with ESPN for exclusive broadcast rights to the US Open, the French Open will be the only tennis tournament on American network television.
Olympic Games coverage
In 2004 and 2006, Bravo carried overnight and morning coverage of the Olympic Games from NBC Sports. In 2008, the channel did not carry any coverage, as NBCUniversal had acquired Oxygen, allowing Bravo to continue to carry its regular entertainment programming schedule during NBC's coverage of the Games. For the 2012 Summer Olympics, NBC Sports announced that Bravo would serve as the home of Olympic tennis events, providing 56 hours of coverage.
- Julie Anthony (1976–1984)
- Jimmy Arias (served as an analyst for NBC Sports coverage of Tennis at the 2008 Summer Olympics)
- Tracy Austin (since retiring as a player, Austin has worked as a commentator for NBC and the USA Network for the French Open and the US Open)
- Don Budge
- Mary Carillo (1996–present; joined NBC Sports in May 2003 as an analyst on the network's French Open and Wimbledon coverage, having made her debut as an analyst on NBC for the 1996 Family Circle Cup tennis event)
- Rosie Casals
- Bud Collins (1972–2007; during the 2007 Wimbledon tournament, Collins announced that NBC had chosen not to renew his contract, after having covered tennis for the network for 35 years. He insisted that he had no plans to retire and would continue to cover tennis for the Boston Globe. On July 8, 2007, the final day of the tournament, fellow Globe sportswriter Bob Ryan, on the ESPN TV show The Sports Reporters, ridiculed NBC for this decision. He said the 78-year-old Collins "still has his fastball" and praised the Globe for retaining Collins)
- Jimmy Connors (Connors did commentary with NBC-TV in 1990 and 1991, during its coverage of the French Open and Wimbledon tournaments)
- Donald Dell (Dell broadcast tennis for NBC television in the 1970s and 1980s)
- Dick Enberg (1978–2000; as NBC's voice of the Wimbledon tennis championships – alongside Bud Collins and, later, John McEnroe, Enberg regularly concluded the network's coverage of the two-week event with thematically appropriate observations accompanied by a montage of video clips)
- Chris Evert (1990–2003)
- Gayle Gardner (1987–1993; among the assignments that she undertook included anchoring NBC's New Year's Day college football bowl game coverage, NFL Live!, Major League Baseball: An Inside Look, NBC's 1988 and 1992 Summer Olympics coverage, the French Open, Wimbledon, and NBC's "Prudential Sports Updates")
- Mike Gorman (called tennis at the 1992 Summer Olympics with Bud Collins)
- Julie Heldman (after ending her playing career she worked as a television color commentator and journalist, with CBS, NBC, PBS, and HBO at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon, 1973–78)
- Hilary Hilton
- Charlie Jones (during his time at NBC, Jones also broadcast the 1988 Summer Olympics calling the infamous Ben Johnson-Carl Lewis 100 meter dash, 1986 FIFA World Cup, 1991 Ryder Cup, 1992 Summer Olympics and 1996 Summer Olympics, as well as Major League Baseball, PGA Tour golf, and Wimbledon tennis)
- Jack Kramer
- Bill Macatee (joined NBC in 1982, where he hosted and reported on a variety of major events including late-night coverage of Wimbledon and the World Series, as well as the pre-game shows for the League Championship Series, Super Bowl XVII and college football bowl games)
- Barry MacKay (served as the play-by-play announcer for NBC Sports' coverage of tennis at the 2008 Summer Olympics)
- John McEnroe (1992–present; he now is sports commentator at Wimbledon for the BBC in the UK. He also provides commentary on lesser ATP tennis tournaments in the US on networks such as CBS, NBC, USA, and ESPN, as does his brother Patrick)
- Lindsey Nelson
- John Newcombe
- Bud Palmer
- Ted Robinson (2000–present; Robinson has served as the lead announcer of NBC's tennis coverage since 2000. Robinson has called the French Open and (through 2011) Wimbledon Championships for NBC)
- Tim Ryan
- Jim Simpson (–1979)
- Bill Stern
- Hannah Storm (1992–2002; Storm anchored NBC Sports coverage of Wimbledon, French Open, Notre Dame football, World Figure Skating Championships, NBC SportsDesk, Men's and Women's U.S. Open (golf) and various college bowl games.)
- Bill Talbert (after his playing career, he wrote tennis books, including the best seller The Game of Doubles in Tennis with Bruce Old in 1977, served as a tennis commentator for NBC Sports, and was Tournament Director of the US Open)
NBC Sports first switched to digital on-screen graphics in 1995, although in a very limited, text-based form. A modernized graphics package for the telecasts rolled out in 1999, based around translucent black rectangles, with beveled gold bars at the top and bottom, with blue accents for most sports (green for golf, purple for Wimbledon, and orange for the tennis French Open). Interestingly, scoring bugs were still not a permanent feature, as they disappeared during plays until 2005, when the network introduced horizontal scorebars for its coverage of college football and hockey, which did not match the other graphics. The graphics, which still did not have any animation, were modified in 2002 to feature rounded edges, and the translucent color was changed from black to the color of the accents, which also replaced gold as the border color.
- Richard Sandomir (June 27, 2009). "Live, the Men’s Final, After a Bit of Subterfuge". The New York Times. The New York Times Company.
- "Monday Night Football's Hail Mary". New York Times Magazine. The New York Times Company (via JulianRubenstein.com). September 3, 2000.
- "Tanner comes out of closet". London: The Observer. July 4, 2004. Retrieved January 6, 2010.
- "Bud Collins’ first Wimbledon". NBC Sports History Page.
- Michael Hiestand (2011-06-22). "Dick Enberg says farewell to Wimbledon after 28 fortnights". USA Today. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
- "ESPN Outbids NBC for Wimbledon Rights Package". adweek.com. July 5, 2011.
- "ESPN acquires all rights to Wimbledon". ESPN Los Angeles. July 5, 2011.
- Richard Sandomir (July 3, 2011). "ESPN Reaches Deal to Carry Wimbledon". The New York Times. The New York Times Company.
- Ken Fang (May 23, 2013). "NBC Begins Coverage of The 2013 French Open This Sunday". Fang's Bites. Retrieved May 26, 2013.
- Zemek, Matt (May 26, 2015). "NBC’s French Open television schedule is still the worst in sports". Awful Announcing.
- "NBC extends French Open deal through 2024". The Hollywood Reporter. August 5, 2012. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
- "NBC Lays Out Olympic Schedule". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
- "Medium Well: Your NBC Olympics lineup". Baltimore Sun. Tribune Publishing. July 2008.
- Michael Hiestand (July 5, 2007). "Collins will call final Wimbledon for NBC". USA Today. Gannett Company.
- Larry Stewart (July 9, 2007). "Collins makes exit from NBC". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Publishing.
- 1989 French Open Gayle Gardner Interview of Chris Evert (11min) (Quality: Good) at the Wayback Machine (archived October 27, 2009)
- The New York Times, "SPORTS PEOPLE; Gardner to Shift", October 06, 1987, Retrieved March 3, 2012.
- The Washington Post, "The Olympiad Covering the Best At Barcelona", by Patricia Brennan, July 26, 1992, Retrieved March 3, 2012.