Founder & CEO, The Ski Channel / Founder, The Tennis Channel
Steve Bellamy is an entrepreneur in sports and media and founder of several businesses, including The Ski Channel television network, where he is currently the Chairman and CEO, The Tennis Channel television network, the Palisades Tennis Center, Westwood Tennis Center, LA Golf Academy and many others. He is also a the inventor of LiveBall and the Shotgun 21 tennis tournament format, a former rock musician and songwriter.
A native of Indiana, Bellamy fronted a rock band while attending Indiana University, then moved to Los Angeles in 1986 to pursue a music career. After frequently selling his cars and guitars to pay rent in the early years, Bellamy became a large draw on the Los Angeles Club circuit playing venues like the House of Blues, Club Lingerie, The Roxy and the Whisky during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He recorded five albums, toured the country, had songs on commercial radio across the United States and shared the stage with Bruce Springsteen, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Brian Wilson and David Crosby. His video for “Time Takes Away” was seen on MTV and his songs can still be frequently heard in television and film.
While working in the studio and playing concerts at night, he spent his days giving tennis lessons to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Goldie Hawn, Sally Field, Hilary Swank, Kate Hudson and other actors, politicians, media executives and their families including Mike Ovitz, Steven Spielberg and Leslie Moonves. In 1996, Bellamy took over a public tennis facility in Pacific Palisades near Los Angeles and turned it into one of the most innovative tennis training facilities in the world. Palisades Tennis Center was dubbed the “Crown Jewel of American Tennis” by Independent Business Magazine and “the nexus for tennis and Mecca for celebrities in Los Angeles” by W Magazine. Shortly thereafter, Bellamy also acquired Westwood Tennis Center, Santa Monica Tennis Center and Westchester Tennis Academy.
In 1999, Bellamy started a cable television network devoted to tennis and raised significant amounts of capital from a number of his tennis clients and friends from the media business. The Tennis Channel launched in 2003 and although debuting to just a handful of cities across the United States, The Tennis Channel quickly became the most powerful media service in the sport and is now available in every community in the country. It holds television rights to the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, the Masters Series, the U.S. Open Series, the US Open, Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the French Open.
While President of the channel, Bellamy appeared regularly on radio and was a frequent tennis analyst on television networks such as ESPN, Fox, Sporting News and CNN. “In a sport that sometimes has a bad habit of thinking small, Steve is a real visionary whose infectious enthusiasm and outside-the-box strategizing is helping bring tennis to a broader audience. We’re all fortunate he swapped one stringed instrument (his guitar) for another (his racket) and is helping lead tennis into the 21st century.” said Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated. He also hosted a show on The Tennis Channel. “The Changing Face of Pro Tennis.” In 2005, he was named to Sports Business Journal’s “Top 10 most Influential People” list and Tennis News named him “Person of the Year.” The award was subsequently renamed after him and “The Bellamy” will go to the most influential person in tennis each year. He sat on the industry’s most powerful boards and committees including the ATP Foundation board, Tennis Industry Association board, the International Tennis Federation’s Joint Media Commission and the International Tennis Hall of Fame. “Steve deserves a lot of credit for the popularity of the sport today,” said Andre Agassi.
He has organized special events that have included Dustin Hoffman, Dr. Phil, David Spade and Sheryl Crow. In 2006, he created one of the most distinctive sporting events in the world – The Tennis Channel Open in Las Vegas. “Tennispalooza” melded men’s, women’s, college and junior tennis with other sports, entertainment and cultural events that included the best from the worlds of paddle tennis, table tennis, air hockey, art, cooking, Motocross, dance and music in a 14-day festival. The event featured a revolutionary tennis broadcast and made headlines across the globe. James Blake beat Lleyton Hewitt to win the men’s singles title and brothers Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan won the men’s doubles title while Motocross riders were simultaneously jumping 75 feet in the air off ramps and doing flips. For his efforts, Bellamy received the key to the city from Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. An eclectic student who didn’t buy books for three years of college and didn’t make the Entrepreneur Club while in school, Bellamy was awarded the “Distinguished Entrepreneur Award” from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and was the commencement speaker for ’07-’08.
Bellamy owns Atonal Sports and Entertainment which owns and operates several tennis centers, a film company, the LA Golf Academy, and the Palisades Sound Recording Studio. Atonal Films produces documentaries shot in HD. Atonal’s charitable arm controls the Make a Racket Foundation, which gets unused tennis racquets out of closets and into the hands of underprivileged youth. The foundations’ first fundraiser was a free tennis exhibition called “Racquets, Stars & Guitars” which featured tennis brothers Bob and Mike Bryan, musician Gavin Rossdale, comedian Jon Lovitz, actresses Elizabeth Shue, Donna Mills, Melissa Rivers and Camryn Manheim and other athletes and celebrities. The event was featured in US Weekly. Bellamy also sits on the board of “Head To Hollywood” with Carmen Electra and US Magazine West Coast Editor Ken Baker.
In April 2007, Bellamy announced the formation of The Ski Channel television network that would focus on mountain oriented sports, activity and lifestyle. That announcement brought a long term cable distribution deal with Time Warner and advertising deals with: Panasonic, Fender Guitars, Marquis Jets and Mirage Resorts. Panasonic’s President, Andy Nelkin stated they were going to use the networks affluent audience to market their new 107 inch hi definition television that cost $70,000. Shortly after a flurry of programming announcements were made with ski film maker Rage Films, episodic television series Ride Guide and a series with legendary action sports photographer Tony Harrington, entitled, “Storm Hunter.” A big announcement was a partnership with Olympic Gold Medalist Jonny Moseley that made Moseley an investor in the channel, a spokesperson and gave Moseley a signature show on the network. The Moseley announcement came at “The Ski Channel Baby Shower” and was attended by ski and snowboard stars: Julia Mancuso, Kirstina Koznick, Lauren Ross and Dash Longe. Alexandra Paul, Donna Mills, Melissa Rivers, Dawnn Lewis, Jaron Lowenstein, Scott Grimes, Kevin Durand, Amy Pietz, Jason Gray Stanford, Sinjin Smith, Pam Shriver and George Lazenby attended as well. On Nov, 10th 2008, it was reported in the media that the network had secured enough capital through a private placement to fund the channel through the life of the business, that it had hire a senior management team and that the network would be launching shortly. On Nov. 17th 2008, it was reported by Business Week that the channel had added DirecTV and Verizon to its list of distributors, that it was launching on Christmas Day of 2008 and that it had acquired the broadcast rights to classic Warren Miller movies.
On June 1, 2009, it was announced that The Ski Channel had entered into a long term partnership with AT&T Uverse that would put the channel in approximately 20 Million Households. As of May 1, 2010, The Ski Channel is in 26 million US television households and in every market in America. The channel has distribution partnerships with Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, Dish Network, Cablevision, AT&T, Verizon, RCN, Cox, Frontier Cable and programming partnerships with Warren Miller, Greg Stump and the US Freeski Tour. In July or 2010, The Ski Channel announced a deal with Comcast that brings the network to 43 million US television households when added to the previous distribution.
Bellamy’s wife Beth Herr was a NCAA singles champion at USC, a No. 1 world-ranked junior tennis player, a top 20 professional tennis player and is a top-ranked female paddle tennis player in the world. They have four children who are all tennis players. Bellamy is an avid collector of rare guitars, a staunch animal rights activist and is a long time hard core vegan.