WTA CEO Steve Simon, whose presence has been mostly invisible to both casual and involved fans alike, held a presser Wednesday morning in Singapore to announce where the WTA is going in the near future and how it plans to get there.
So what did we learn? We already knew that the WTA would no longer stream its matches on the TennisTV platform. The big question for most fans was how much this service would cost.
The presser didn’t address this at all.
Instead we heard about all the potential size of the audience in China and how the WTA being available on streaming devices could potentially reach the billions of people there who aren’t coming to see WTA matches live.
With the WTA website being the worst of any professional sport we heard about “changes” that will make a fan visiting want to find out more about women’s tennis. There’s going to be all kinds of player behind the scenes access via interviews and sponsor promotions on the site. All singles matches,”even International level matches”, will be streamed. Doubles matches will be streamed from the quarter finals on.
Press conferences (remember those) will also be live streamed. Since the Slams are still run by the ITF it’s not clear if press conferences from those events will also be streamed.
Simon also touched on the latest fuck up caused by the regular season schedule. He said that there should be a week between the end of the regular season and the Year End Championships. He also said that moving the date back isn’t an easy task but that it will be closely studied. That’s corporates peak for this being kicked to a committee whose recommendations will be ignored.
In fact the entire press conference was given in corporate speak. Nothing specific was presented. As mentioned above cost to the fans for watching matches on WTATV weren’t announced. He said that there would be an App on Android and Apple platforms. That was it.
We heard all about a new website with lots more bells and whistles but was a preview of the new website offered? Nope.
There was a slickly produced video clip at the beginning that flashed through the 2016 season (You had to look hard for Serena Williams and for some reason there was a lot of Sloane Stephens ). Otherwise it was a blonde blur of images. It was proudly proclaimed that this is what fans will be seeing on the WTA website going forward. It made me wonder if the website is going to be “reskinned” and not much else will be done to it.
The reporters in the room seemed more concerned about what the effect of live streaming press conferences would do to their ability to be the sole arbiters of what information gets to fans. Remember that a cabal of tennis “writers” successfully lobbied to stop transcripts of press conferences from appearing live on the website of the French Open. These people have also made tennis the only sport where same day transcripts featuring the names of the reporters asking the questions don’t happen. Simon and the people on stage gently told the reporters concerned with this that they wouldn’t be denied access but that the world has changed, and that tennis has to change with it. Someone also said that there would be no “interpretation” of what a player said since fans would be able to hear the replies live (or on replay) depending on the fans circumstances. This is a positive and could result in better and more nuanced tennis coverage something that is sorely needed not only in women’s tennis but in tennis period.
One other thing that was of interest is that potential viewership numbers were given for Europe and Asia NOT the United States. No questions were asked about that omission.
There is talk about another big announcement from the WTA coming in December. Just the time to line up subscribers to their new platform. And yes that’s sarcasm.
If you want to watch the announcement and the question and answer period please click HERE.
I’ll talk about the WTA YEC at the end of Round Robin play.
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