SBJ/October 10-16, 2011/Media

Wimbledon will offer live look-in Web channel

Call it the GreenZone.

Wimbledon next year will unveil a live look-in Web channel, similar conceptually to the NFL’s RedZone TV channel, which shows live game action when teams are close to scoring. In Wimbledon’s version, Web viewers can see critical moments of matches, though no more than four games at one time.

“We didn’t want to compete against our broadcasters because they are our partners,” said Mick Desmond, commercial director for the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, the private club that owns and stages the annual grass court spectacle.

If the match is not over when the live look-in expires, the club will direct the viewer to the appropriate partner, which in the United States would be ESPN. ESPN3 will stream every match on a show court from Wimbledon. In week one that is 12 courts, and nine in week two.

Wimbledon does not use a tiebreaker in a deciding set, so that could mean the new service will offer video of a match late in the final set but then cut away before its conclusion.

The new website was planned with input from ESPN, Desmond said. ESPN earlier this year signed a 12-year deal to broadcast the entire tournament on ESPN2 and ESPN3, which is the company’s streaming service.

The U.S. Open Tennis Championships streams all of its matches occurring on TV courts. Wimbledon never considered that option, Desmond said, because the club felt it would step on the toes of broadcasters.

And unlike the U.S. Open stream, which has its own sponsors, the live look-ins from Wimbledon will not be sold to outside companies. Current tournament sponsors can have a presence on the streams just as they do elsewhere on the Wimbledon.com site, Desmond said.

The new Web channel, which the All England Club is calling Live@Wimbledon, is not limited to live look-ins. It will include features, such as a look at the tournament and fashion, and reports in the week leading up to the fortnight.

Live@Wimbledon will be produced by IMG, the All England Club’s longtime sales agent. The club noted that IMG had been awarded the contract in an open tender process.

In the past, the tournament website has not offered live video, though radio broadcasts were accessible through the site. The radio function will continue.
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