ESPN Announces 12-Year Deal For Wimbledon Media Rights
ESPN today formally announced that it has acquired exclusive U.S. media rights to live action from Wimbledon in a 12-year agreement with the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, effective next year. The deal ends NBC’s 43-year association with the event. NBC, Fox and ESPN had been competing for the tennis tournament’s rights over the past several months. The deal means that all Wimbledon matches will be shown live on cable, as ESPN has been pushing to bring big sporting events to cable. ESPN already signed deals to bring events like the British Open and BCS Championship games to cable, and Wimbledon makes another example.
ESPN plans to make some taped programming available on ABC for weekend afternoon programming, including re-airs of the men’s and women’s finals and a three-hour recap during the tournament’s middle Sunday. It also will make matches available via its broadband (ESPN3) and mobile (Watch ESPN) applications. The fact that ESPN is taking Wimbledon rights from NBC, which has been trying to build Versus as a potential competitor, also was an impetus to ESPN’s push for the deal.