Currently weekday coverage in the US is exclusively handled by ESPN2 during the tournament’s first week. During the tournament’s second week it’s split between ESPN2 and NBC. However, effective with the 2012 tournament and for the next 12 years, all live coverage including the Finals, will be exclusively seen on ESPN — and a bit on Disney sibling, ABC-TV. ESPN outbid NBC of the broadcast rights, ending the network’s 43-year relationship with Wimbledon. NBC’s recent four-year, $52 million deal expired 7/3.
Ian Ritchie, CEO of The All England Lawn Tennis Club, said they are delighted with the move, which will “consolidate our U.S. media rights under the auspices of a single partner. This new agreement will bring increased live coverage of The Championships and ensure that the huge international audience for Wimbledon can now enjoy…through a sustained narrative delivered with clarity, continuity and consistency across a wide range of platforms.”
Specifically, ESPN has acquired the exclusive U.S. television rights to live action from The Championships, Wimbledon, including both the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Singles Finals, in a 12-year agreement with the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club beginning in 2012. Comprehensive coverage from start to finish across a variety of platforms will result in more tennis for fans and all of it live.
ESPN will present Wimbledon on both ESPN and ESPN2 simultaneously the second Monday-Wednesday, allowing for expanded coverage of the Round of 16 and live telecasts of all quarterfinals. ESPN will televise the semifinals and finals. ESPN on ABC will broadcast a three-hour highlights show on the “middle Sunday” of the tournament, and will re-air the finals on a same-day basis at 3 p.m. ET. George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN and ABC Sports, said that over the next 12 years they will work closely to “move coverage of this great event forward with live coverage on television and using all the latest technologies and screens.”
In addition to the newly acquired rights, all of ESPN’s existing coverage will continue — television, broadband, mobile, and other rights in the U.S., Latin America and Canada (through 2021). Since 2003, ESPN networks have aired approximately 100 hours annually – with another 650 on ESPN3.com, primarily on weekdays and capped by one Ladies’ and one Gentlemen’s semifinal. Through 2023, the television schedule will increase to more than 140 hours, including full live national coverage of the semifinals and finals. ESPN3.com’s schedule will expand to 750 hours, also with the semifinals and finals presented live.
ESPN’s Wimbledon rights also include live matches on ESPN3.com (with the semifinals and finals available on delay), ESPN Mobile TV, ESPN Interactive TV, the WatchESPNApp, ESPNNetworks.com and Spanish-language ESPN Deportes, as well as distribution to 30 million homes in Latin America via ESPN International and in Canada via TSN.