In Conversation with Tennis Channel

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 | 5:46 PM

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With the French Open coming to an exciting close and Wimbledon just around the corner, it's certainly a busy time for our newest partners, Tennis Channel who are in the center of the action. We were lucky enough to grab a few minutes with Gary Herman, Senior Vice President of Ad Sales for Tennis Channel who gave us the scoop on Tennis Channel's programming, core audience, and why partnering with Google has been a good move.

Q: Why is a partnership with Google TV Ads strategic for Tennis Channel?

Gary: Google's TV ads platform creates a marketplace for online advertisers who might not have considered buying television before. No other online company has the breadth of advertisers, resources and credibility that Google brings to the table. Google's auction-based platform is a new way of buying media and we like the idea of staying ahead of the curve.

Q: What are some of the most exciting programs and content that advertisers can look forward to targeting on Tennis Channel?

Gary: Tennis Channel produces and airs more live, world class tennis tournaments than any other cable or broadcast channel in the US. Advertisers buying through Google TV Ads will have plenty of access to all this great content including the opportunity to buy ads during each of the tennis Grand Slams: The Australian Open (January), French Open, (May/June), Wimbledon prime time (June/July) and the US Open (September).

Q: Can you give us an overview of Tennis Channel's core audience?

Gary: Tennis Channel viewers represent the sweet spot of affluent customers. Our audience is balanced between men (57%) and women (43%), young people (two-thirds are under 50 and active) and of course tennis lovers (76% play tennis regularly).

According to the most recent Mendelsohn 2009 Affluent Survey, our average viewers' household income is $233k, the highest of any network featured in the study, and average home values are over $549k -- second only to Bloomberg Television. Our viewers love to travel, dine out, shop at high-end retailers, make online purchases and are early technology adopters.

Q: Given that your audience is amongst the higher end in television, what kinds of advertisers would Tennis Channel appeal to most?

Gary: Our network is ideal for advertisers targeting affluent men and women consumers in a programming environment that is family friendly with minimal commercial skipping and limited commercial clutter. Advertisers find value in knowing that their brand messages are seen by consumers with the disposable income to make purchases even in today's challenging economic times. Some of our key advertisers represent categories such as luxury cars, financial services, insurance, travel, credit cards, technology, pharmaceuticals, and health and beauty.

Q: Are you seeing a change in the way the TV industry is thinking about content, distribution and advertising? How has Tennis Channel innovated in these areas?

Gary: We like being in the sports programming business with television as the main screen; tennis looks great on a 42" high definition screen. The challenge for programmers and advertisers from our point of view, is staying relevant with audiences in a world where the average person receives over 5,000 branded messages per day and can get content on so many devices with different screen sized at any time of day. We know that tennis is an important part of our viewers' lives, and providing them with 24/7 tennis programming by default makes Tennis Channel extremely relevant to them. The clear benefit to our advertisers is that our viewers are more likely to be receptive to ad messages when those messages are aired during their favorite sports programming.

Q: What is something that people might find surprising about Tennis Channel, its content and/or its audience?

Gary: Many people are surprised to hear that there are as many tennis players today as golfers -- tennis is back in a big way and it's catching on with fans of all ages. As for our channel, eyebrows raise when fans realize that Tennis Channel not only airs match play, but we actually produce hundreds and hundreds of hours of live tennis from all over the world including ESPN2's coverage of the US Open Summer Series. There is never a dull moment in tennis, and we're there to catch it all.