The four ‘Grand Slam’ tournaments are the pinnacle of tennis for players – it is where champions are made.
The Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon Championships and US Open each year attract the world’s best tennis players, hundreds of thousands of spectators attending each two-week event, millions of television viewers around the world and ever-increasing prize money pools. The size and importance of these annual events sees fans from around the world wanting to follow the action closely each day.
For example, the 2014 Australian Open had a global broadcast and media cumulative audience of 342.8 million people across 196 countries, with 17,000,000 unique visitors to ausopen.com during the tournament period.
For some fans they attend the tournament or watch it through their local broadcaster, but for many it isn’t as easy to follow the tournament in these ways. This is where for†those†fans, the Grand Slam tennis tournaments do something better than any other event, pop-up Grand Slam radio. These are radio stations that only broadcast for two-weeks each year but are listened to by many fans around the world religiously.
With the 2016 Australian Open entering its second week, it is appropriate to focus on Tennis Australia’s “AO Radio” service. The service, which is in its 12th year and features commentators whose names are synonymous†with tennis such as Craig Gabriel and Matt Cronin, is broadcast locally around Melbourne Park via FM radio, but is also available online via ausopen.com, the Australian Open tennis app and TuneIn radio.
AO Radio primarily covers matches on Rod Laver Arena (Centre Court), while bringing listeners score updates from around Melbourne Park. While some might say that tennis does not lend itself to†radio commentary, what makes AO Radio and Grand Slam radio interesting is the general discussions (and stories) that is interwoven into the call of the match (like cricket radio commentary). Not to mention that Grand Slam radio has made it incredibly easy for listeners to interact with the commentators whether through the app or via social media channels. This is a (if not the) key selling point to the service.
This interaction between listeners and commentators gives you a true appreciation of the reach and popularity of these grand slam tournaments. People are literally tuning in from all over the globe – at all different hours.
As Chris Bowers, AO Radio’s executive producer and member of the commentary team told ausopen.com:
“Our listeners cover a range of circumstances…Many of our listeners are in transit, so listen to us in buses, trains or trams, or fix their smartphone to AO Radio while they’re driving.”
“Some are at work but are able to listen with an earpiece in their computer. And others are expatriates in countries where they don’t speak the local language, so they listen to AO Radio while watching TV with the sound turned down. There are even some who listen to us simply because they like to be able to talk back to the commentary team.”
There is a certain romance listening to Grand Slam tennis as it provides a†personal touch to your interaction with the Grand Slam†tournament. You can be walking on the street listening to the coverage, send the commentators a message and next thing you know it is being read out live to listeners all around the world. This is something more than attending the event or even watching on TV can provide.
Grand Slam radio is†the†companion for those fans who are passionate about the sport (and the tournament) but due to circumstances can only listen to the tournament.
If you love your tennis, and want to follow and learn more about the game, and even get a mention on the radio(!), tune in to Grand Slam radio, in particular AO Radio, as the Australian Open enters its second week.
Australian Open 2014 – By the Numbers
We aim to please! -Matt in the AO Radio master control room