Tennis Channel and its affiliated platforms will be the only places to watch the prestigious BNP Paribas Open – known as one of the sport’s “Fifth Slams” – when it returns to Indian Wells, Calif., October 6-17, after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus due to the worldwide pandemic. This will mark the first time in the network’s 18-year history that it will be home to the entire event, from first ball to last. While Tennis Channel has held the lion’s share of live coverage for many years, in 2021 it will add championship weekend and all matches to its lineup.
The milestone comes with the BNP Paribas Open’s return to the tennis calendar after missing its usual place in March the past two years. On the eve of the 2020 tournament, with COVID-19 cases rapidly expanding in the United States, the cancellation of the event for the first time in its history was the first in a domino effect that saw the unprecedented shutdown of amateur and professional sports activity across the country within days for health and safety purposes. Though not being held in the springtime this year, the 2021 BNP Paribas Open in October is, for some, a long-awaited restoration of that original American sports-landscape loss and a much-needed balm.
From Opening Day Wednesday, Oct. 6, to Championship Sunday, Oct. 17, Tennis Channel will be the round-the-clock home of the BNP Paribas Open, with live 12-hour blocks most days followed by all-night encore replays. In all, the network plans 120 live hours of coverage on air, with another 145 hours of encores for close to 170 hours overall from the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Streaming service Tennis Channel Plus will offer live men’s and women’s competition daily and on-demand matches throughout the event, including the opportunity for subscribers to choose from multiple courts each day.
Live coverage begins Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 1 p.m. ET, and will run through approximately 1 a.m. ET (complete schedule below). Encores will air from 1 a.m. ET to 1 p.m. ET. The schedule will be similar throughout the event, with telecasts starting every day at 1 p.m. ET other than Championship Sunday, Oct. 17, when the women’s singles final begins at 4 p.m. ET and the men’s singles final takes place at 7 p.m. ET.
Tennis Channel Live at the BNP Paribas Open will introduce each day’s coverage at 1 p.m. ET daily except for Championship Sunday, Oct. 17, when it will take place between the women’s and men’s singles finals. Hosted by announcer Steve Weissman (@steve_weissman), the hour-long show will feature commentary, opinion and special reports from on-air team members, along with interviews and guest appearances. The network’s on-site studio is based inside the tournament’s main court, Stadium 1, with a wide, glass backdrop overlooking the spectator viewing section on the lawn below.
Parent-company Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Bally Sports regional networks (RSNs) will also provide live coverage seven of the BNP Paribas Open’s 12 days, making more of the tournament available on television than ever before. Starting at 2 p.m. ET daily, from Thursday, Oct. 7, to Wednesday, Oct. 13, the RSNs will have access to four-hour blocks of exclusive matches from courts that will not appear on Tennis Channel. Fans will be able to choose between two different live matches on Tennis Channel or their regional sports network during these time periods.
On-Air Talent for the Tennis Channel
Combined, the members of Tennis Channel’s 2021 BNP Paribas Open on-air team have won 14 championships in the Southern California desert. Hall of Famers Martina Navratilova (@Martina), Jim Courier and Lindsay Davenport (@LDavenport76) return to the event in 2021 as Tennis Channel analysts. Navratilova won back-to-back singles championships in 1990 and 1991, while Courier took the singles and doubles crowns in 1991, and another singles title in 1993. Davenport claimed singles trophies in 1997 and 2000, and doubles victories in 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2003.
They will be joined by fellow analyst Chanda Rubin (@Chanda_Rubin), who won the event’s 1996 doubles championship. Former players James Blake (@JRBlake), Paul Annacone (@paul_annacone) and Prakash Amritraj (@PrakashAmritraj) are also back on Tennis Channel’s BNP Paribas Open on-air team. They will be joined by newcomer and current player Genie Bouchard (@geniebouchard), who is recovering from shoulder surgery. This is Bouchard’s first time in Indian Wells as a part of the network’s analyst team. This summer she offered commentary for the network for the first time during coverage of events in Washington, Montreal and Toronto. Three-time ATP tournament winner Jan-Michael Gambill (@JanmikeGambill) has offered analysis for Tennis Channel multiple times in the past and will offer commentary for the Bally Sports regional networks’ matches at Indian Wells for the first time this year.
Brett Haber (@BrettHaber) is a longtime Tennis Channel host and announcer and will handle play-by-play responsibilities during the BNP Paribas Open. This is Hall of Famer Pam Shriver’s (@PHShriver) first time as a Tennis Channel announcer in Indian Wells. Along with Navratilova, she is part of the only women’s doubles team to win all four majors in a calendar year, in 1984. Former players Leif Shiras (@ShirasLeif) and Jason Goodall round out the network’s announcer lineup. Shiras will call matches that appear on the RSNs, while Goodall is in his first appearance with the channel at the event.
In addition to hosting Tennis Channel Live at the BNP Paribas Open, Weissman will anchor the network’s desk throughout the tournament.
Digital Tennis Channel broadcasts
Streaming service Tennis Channel Plus is available to everyone in the United States regardless of whether or not they subscribe to the television network, and will offer all BNP Paribas Open men’s and women’s matches live and on demand. Additionally, the network’s new Tennis.com website and app are free to anyone anywhere, and provide tournament information, scores, rankings, news, win-probability rates, head-to-head results, highlights, estimated start times, and scoreboard links to replays and live matches for Tennis Channel and Tennis Channel Plus subscribers.
The network’s social media team will offer behind-the-scenes looks at the tournament as well, and will work with Bouchard and other on-air team members to provide original videos, Instagram takeovers and exclusive fan-oriented content. Fans can stay tuned on Tennis Channel’s Instagram (www.instagram.com/tennischannel), Facebook (www.facebook.com/tennischannel), Twitter (www.twitter.com/tennischannel) and YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/tennischannel) pages, and Tennis.com’s Facebook (www.facebook.com/TennisMedia) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/Tennis) pages.