Love 40: NBC shows disrespect for tennis

2:39 pm | June 15, 2012

On a weekend where tennis was competing on one of its biggest stages, a familiar television network pretty much said it wasn’t important.

I was covering the Link Hills Invitational Sunday when I caught wind the French Open men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal had been suspended and would be played at 7 a.m. Monday morning, and I wondered what NBC would do.

The answer didn’t surprise me in the least.

NBC decided to move the championship match to the NBC Sports Network. Some of you are wondering, what is that?

NBC Sports Network is the old Versus network that is hard to find on local cable systems, though fortunately I get it on DirecTV.

Trust me, I’m glad it was shown at all, but it once again showed NBC’s disrespect to this great game.

For many years, we had to stomach through tape delays at French Open and Wimbledon, including tape delaying of all things the French Open women’s final up until about the mid-2000s.

Used to, it wasn’t that bad to try and avoid hearing results of Wimbledon before it came on, but that changed in the days of social media where it is almost impossible to avoid information.

I guess the thing that bothers me the most is this wouldn’t happen with any other sport.

Could you imagine back when NBC had the NBA, the peacock network tape delaying games and showing them later?

NBC does tape delay some of the Olympic coverage as well.

Why does tennis have to be treated second rate by NBC and why do they even want to cover it if they’re not going to show it live?

The All-England Club was wondering that too, and they took action.

Wimbledon, after years of being botched by NBC, will be broadcast exclusively live by ESPN this year. From first ball to match point, ESPN now takes over and will provide the Breakfast at Wimbledon coverage on the final weekend.

There’s been some talk about a cable network having the rights to the world’s greatest tennis tournament, but at least we’re going to see it live and we do know ESPN has a strong commitment to the grand slams.

NBC seems to want the prize, but doesn’t want to share it.

For years NBC showed Wimbledon during the weekdays, but they spaced it out to where the eastern time zone saw it live, and the rest of the country saw taped delayed tennis. They’re still doing it with some of the French Open coverage.

About this latest debacle of NBC Sports Network, at least Tennis Channel would have been a little more familiar, but really the fact that until this year they showed most of the French was a little puzzling as well.

I hope eventually all four grand slams are on ESPN and the network can bring John McEnroe over from NBC to do the matches with Brad Gilbert, Chris Fowler and brother Patrick.

Most people that I know of don’t know what NBC Sports Network is and on my twitter account where I follow a lot of tennis personalities they were explaining where to find the channel.

I’m glad it was on, but to me it was a high disrespect to a final that the whole globe cared about.

It has been tough being a tennis viewer over the years, but fortunately I now have the tennis channel and can watch not only the majors, but the lead-in tournaments to the majors.

Some people though are not as lucky, and the French Open final deserves to be on network television.

You could make an argument for Wimbledon not being on ESPN, but pretty much every cable system in America has ESPN on its first tier. NBC Sports Network is mainly on the low sports tiers.

I’m looking forward to Wimbledon knowing that I can either watch the event or DVR it. And for most tennis fans, they know it’s going to be on a network that most people in America actually know what it is.

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Matt Hill is golf and tennis columnist for the Elizabethton Star. You can reach him at mountainsportswriter@yahoo.com 

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