Tennis Channel to air Major League Pickleball competition matches

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The Tennis Channel is accepting pickleball.

Major League Pickleball revealed Thursday the cable television channel will transmit the league’s premier level competition semifinals and finals in Mesa, Arizona, and will make all matches of the competition offered for streaming. The collaboration marks a deepening of the relationship in between expert pickleball and the television network.

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Pickleball has actually skyrocketed in appeal, with more than 36 million Americans playing the sport in 2015. Now the Tennis Channel is poised to profit from that rise.

“We’ve gone from one pickleball event in 2021, we had a pretty full year of coverage in 2022 and that is going to escalate significantly in 2023,” Ken Solomon, CEO of the Tennis Channel, informed CNBC. “We have big plans.”

Solomon stated the network is distinctively placed to transmit pickleball after its 20 years of relaying tennis.

“We have all the infrastructure in place and all the human capital and the people who create the narrative to the engineers,” he stated.

Solomon stated the network can shift to pickleball “literally with a flip of a switch.” And, he stated, the sport is “hot as hell.”

The longtime Tennis Channel executive stated pickleball has actually currently seen an extremely natural overlap with existing tennis sponsors. He does not fret about pickleball cannibalizing the sport that’s been his support.

Brian Levine, Major League Pickleball’s interim CEO, concurs the 2 sports can be equally useful.

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

The large bulk of MLP specialists originate from a tennis background. Many present and previous tennis gamers have actually purchased expert pickleball, consisting of Naomi Osaka, James Blake, Kim Clijsters, Sam Querrey, Nick Kyrgios and Lindsay Davenport.

For the Tennis Channel audience, Levine believes pickleball’s hectic action will assist bring in brand-new fans of the sport. He kept in mind that throughout MLP expert matches, the ball is in action about 40% of the time, compared to expert tennis matches at 16%.

The Tennis Channel, developed in 2003 and owned by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, struck its very first handle the Professional Pickleball Association in 2021 to transmit different occasions and competitions.

The network has actually because relayed an unique pickleball star exhibit in Dallas including sports legends like Tony Romo, Jordan Spieth and John Isner, in addition to MLP’s first-ever draft in Las Vegas, where the league exposed group lineups.

Solomon stated pickleball has actually currently provided strong scores for his network.

“What we have seen consistently, is real attention, real appointment television type viewing for pickleball. It has rated very, very well,” he stated.

The network has actually been making a push into streaming and making its item offered worldwide, with a membership service called Tennis Channel International introducing in2020 Adding pickleball matches to its streaming offerings indicates intensifying material at a time when direct tv is stagnant, at finest.

MLP stated it has actually not completed broadcast contracts beyond the Mesa, Arizona, competition however is actively in conversations.

Solomon would not talk about his network’s future strategies with MLP however stated, “We firmly believe that having dedicated destinations is a virtue. We’ve proven it.”

Also on Thursday, the professional pickleball circuit revealed the last 2 groups of the league and their particular ownership groups for the 2023 season, which beginsJan 26: TheSt Louis Shock will be led by business owner Richard Chaifetz, with his kid, Ross Chaifetz, leading group operations; and the Orlando Squeeze in Florida will be led by Ryan DeVos, whose household has more than 30 years of ownership experience with the NBA’s Orlando Magic.

NFL complimentary representative Odell BeckhamJr will sign up with the ownership group of the Washington, D.C., group, the league stated.

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