Tennis Channel has extended its longtime relationship with veteran sportscaster Bill Macatee, a multiyear deal that keeps Macatee front and center with the network during its coverage of the sport's four major tournaments—Wimbledon, U.S. Open, French Open and Australian Open—a role he has held since 2007 when the channel first began covering majors with the French Open. He has been a driving member of Tennis Channel's on-air team at every subsequent major, and has been involved in other series and specials for the network away from these events throughout the year.
During the U.S. Open and Australian Open, Macatee lends more than two decades of anchor and play-by-play skills to Tennis Channel's on-air booth, introducing each day's coverage and detailing the match action and on-court excitement as it unfolds. One of the pre-eminent interviewers in television today, he also holds exclusive conversations at these events, skills Tennis Channel utilizes further with studio shows Wimbledon Primetime and French Open Tonight (shows Macatee also produces). The programs bring players, experts and other tennis personalities into viewers' homes via engaging, intimate discussions that go beyond forehand winners and third-set rallies. Popular with both audiences and interviewees who make repeated appearances, they are unique in televised tennis coverage, trading on the network's year-round familiarity with the tennis world, as well as Macatee's inquisitive, analytical perspective and conversational demeanor.
"It's been an honor to be part of Tennis Channel as we've grown from our first major steps at the French Open into the round-the-clock destination we are today during the Grand Slams," said Macatee. "I'm excited to continue this journey and really looking forward to the breakthroughs we're adding to this year's edition of Wimbledon Primetime in London during the next two weeks."
The announcement comes on the eve of Tennis Channel's fifth year of Wimbledon coverage via nightly series Wimbledon Primetime, which will undergo a significant evolution in 2012. In the first year of a 12-year extension with the All England Lawn and Tennis Club that was announced in the fall, on-air personality Mary Carillo is new to the show this summer. With Macatee, she joins the returning Martina Navratilova, Lindsay Davenport, Justin Gimelstob and Bud Collins. Carillo, popular with viewers for her candor and straightforward points of view, began working with Tennis Channel in 2011 during the French Open and U.S Open, events that are on her schedule again this year.
Wimbledon Primetime also will debut a state-of-the-art set that will prove to be the largest on-site television studio in tournament history, a "mission control" center that will allow the network to stay engaged with action throughout the grounds. A wider-ranging format is also in store for 2012. Unlike the single solid, four-hour block of interviews and match coverage of the past, this year Tennis Channel will offer seven nightly hours of original Wimbledon programming. The four-hour Wimbledon Primetime's first edition each night will include three hours of on-court stories and encore match coverage, followed by an hour of fast-paced highlights and interviews. This will be followed immediately by a second edition with three entirely new hours of the day's best tennis before the concluding, rapid-fire hour. Also new in 2012, the program will run all 14 nights of the tournament, through the final Sunday, as opposed to the 10 nights of previous telecasts, which ended with the women's semifinals on the second Thursday.
Wimbledon Primetime's 2012 schedule has been broadened to allow viewers far more opportunities to stay on top of the sport's oldest major, with a round-the-clock formula that has bred success at other majors. Last year, the show began at 7:00 p.m. ET and re-aired only once during the evening, starting at 11:00 p.m. ET. With the second run's conclusion at 3:00 a.m. ET, viewers were left without coverage until the following day. This year, Wimbledon Primetime will run for 14 continuous hours, from the end of one day's play to the start of the next. The initial editions will air from 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. ET and 9:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m. ET., followed by a four-hour encore (1:00 a.m.-5:00 a.m. ET) and two one-hour encores (5:00 a.m-6:00 a.m. ET and 6:00 a.m.-7:00 a.m. ET).