ESPN acquires all rights to Wimbledon

Updated: July 5, 2011, 11:29 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

ESPN will broadcast Wimbledon from start to finish beginning with next year's tournament, the network and the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club announced Tuesday. The agreement will run for 12 years.

In acquiring the U.S. television rights, ESPN will present the tournament, including the men's and women's singles finals, across a variety of platforms -- and all of the coverage will be shown live.

Over the next 12 years, we'll work closely together to move coverage of this great event forward with live coverage on television and using all the latest technologies and screens.

-- George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN and ABC Sports

Matches will air on ESPN and ESPN2 simultaneously the second Monday through Wednesday. This will allow for expanded coverage of the fourth round 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.

ESPN2 has covered the early rounds of the tournament, plus one each of the men's and women's semifinals, since 2003. Matches also will be available on ESPN3.com and the Watch ESPN mobile app. There also will be selected delayed coverage on ABC on weekend afternoons.

"We are proud to have been a partner of The All England Club the past nine years and are thrilled to be given continuing responsibility for honoring Wimbledon's rich tradition," George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN and ABC Sports, said. "Over the next 12 years, we'll work closely together to move coverage of this great event forward with live coverage on television and using all the latest technologies and screens."

Sports Business Journal reported the decision Sunday, following the men's final. NBC issued a statement saying: "While we would have liked to have continued our relationship, we were simply outbid."

The deal officially was signed Tuesday. 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.

"We are delighted to be extending our partnership with ESPN, in a move which will consolidate our U.S. media rights under the auspices of a single partner," Ian Ritchie, chief executive of The All England Lawn Tennis Club, said in a statement. "This new agreement will bring increased live coverage of The Championships and ensure that the huge international audience for Wimbledon can now enjoy all the drama and colour of the fortnight through a sustained narrative delivered with clarity, continuity and consistency across a wide range of platforms."

NBC covered Wimbledon for 43 years. It has televised the men's and women's finals live for the past 32 years, but the network was criticized for tape-delaying some coverage of the quarterfinals and semifinals.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.