Tennis fans will be able to follow both the men’s and the women’s game on a single mobile app from Wednesday, the latest move in a series of collaborations between the ATP and the WTA tours aimed at uniting the fragmented sport.
The new ‘ATP WTA Live’ app will replace the ATP and WTA’s existing apps and allow fans to keep up with official scores and results from both men’s and women’s matches.
That the sport still has work to do to reduce cracks in governance was evident as subscribers to the app will still not have access to scores from the Grand Slams — the four biggest tournaments in the game.
The marketing departments of the ATP and WTA were aligned at the start of 2021 though the tours still have different ranking systems, logos and websites, while viewers need different pay-TV platforms to watch matches.
“We really want to think of it as one family,” Dan Ginger, senior vice-president of brand and marketing, ATP and WTA, told Reuters.
“There’s a brother and a sister to the family, so they’re going to have their own little personality traits which we want to celebrate but actually make sure they kind of feel as part of the same DNA.
“If we can reduce our fragmentation and think collectively about a broader strategic vision for the sport and carve out that clear positioning in the marketplace. That’s really where I see tennis winning.”
Tennis enjoys a massive worldwide following, but is governed by seven different organisations – ATP, WTA, the four Grand Slams and the International Tennis Federation.
The COVID-19 pandemic decimated the 2020 calendar and prompted calls for a merger of the various bodies, a suggestion that was well received by the WTA and ATP.
‘Tennis United’ — a digital series created during the suspension of the WTA and ATP Tours due to the pandemic in 2020 — was the first sign of collaboration between the two bodies.
The WTA also rebranded its website and changed its tournament naming system at the end of 2020 to better align with the ATP in another sign of the cooperation.
“We spent the last 12 months focusing on just building the foundations,” Ginger said in an interview.
“We’ve developed this unified brand strategy, which helps to look at how we’re really positioning tennis in sports and entertainment landscape.
“Why are people going to choose to watch tennis over football, over NFL, over their favourite Netflix series? We wanted to ensure that tennis had a purpose and make sure that it aligned with the values of the tennis fan.”
Beyond scores, statistics and real-time updates, subscribers to the new app will also have access to behind-the-scenes content from across the ATP and WTA tours.
Ginger said that the game’s unique selling point was its ability to present elite male and female athletes on the same stage.
“We’ve spent a lot of time … focusing on how we can unify the experience for fans across both tours,” he said.
“This is just another step in that journey. Ultimately, tennis is one sport with the same fans. So, having a singular product just makes complete sense.”