Thursday, March 20, 2008

Well, well, well ... look who's using their brains

The WTA is going to broadcast the women's final in Indian Wells on its Web site for free -- in some countries. The U.S. is not one of them, nor are European countries, nor Australia, nor Japan, because, presumably, these countries are already airing it.
Anyway, this is huge, only because the WTA has seemed at a loss at how to market its brand. The idea is way overdue. I've said it before: With personalities like the Williamses, Jankovic, Sharapova and such, there's no reason women's tennis should be lagging in popularity the way it is. I'm not going to speak to the quality of women's tennis right now (Yes I will. It sucks.), but really, every other sport markets its stars. And even if you have to give it away for free at first, at least people are seeing it. Now, all they have to do is make sure that people know about it. Hope they've thought of that, and have the smoke signals ready.
So, what can women's tennis do to boost its popularity and to market its stars? Let's hear some ideas, fans.

P.S.: A rant on why Fox Sports will never be ESPN or even the Tennis Channel. So, I tune in yesterday at 4 p.m. to watch Nadal vs. Tsonga. I mean, NADAL VS. TSONGA! I'm jacked. Can Nadal beat him? Is Tsonga a flash in the pan? I tune in and it's entertaining right out of the shoot.
So, commercial break. Fine, because those commentators are irritating hell out of me. Fine. Wait. Huh? A special news report? Yes. The press conference with the West Virginia basketball team and its coach. Yeah, in Pittsburgh. Nice. Question: Who cares? Next question: When are we getting back to the tennis?
Well, about twenty-five minutes later, they're back to the match, and I'm still a bit pissed, but fine. The tennis is good. It's pretty good. It's almost 6 p.m., the end of the coverage window, but I'm confident that they'll at least finish the set, for crying out loud. So it's 5 all and Nadal's about to serve, and ...
... A hairy guy with no teeth lacing up ice skates. The Penguins' hockey game. Which is fine. I understand that you have to cater to the four people who like hockey. (Make that five, says one of my coworkers.) It's on the schedule and all. But, there was no warning, no announcement that they'd be switching off, no regard for the fact that the set is tight and that it's almost over. Nothing. And that's the difference between a real television network and some hokey station being run out of someone's basement.

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