Fans of tennis (and anything live) can rejoice today, now that ESPN has taken Wimbledon’s U.S. television rights away from NBC.The deal was first reported by Sports Business Journal‘s John Ourand on Friday.
The 12-year agreement promises to show all matches live, to the entire country, as they happen.
The “live” component is such a key to the deal that it was even in the headline of the press release, subtly thumbing a nose at NBC, who rankled fans last week by refusing to show key semifinal matches live in all time zones.
Many had hoped that ESPN would take over U.S. coverage of the Olympic Games for this very reason. When NBC outbid them by nearly a billion dollars last month (and committed to four Olympic games instead of just two), people worried that ESPN’s frugality would mean decades of continued tape delay highlight shows, instead of seeing the best moments as they happen.
Now it seems ESPN was saving that money for other things. Things that NBC has broadcast for 43 years.
ESPN shared broadcasting duties with NBC for the last few years (with NBC calling dibs on the biggest matches), but will now claim the entire tournament starting 2012. They plan to expand their coverage on all their networks, including ABC.
Financial details have not been disclosed, but NBC’s last 4-year deal was worth about $13 million a year, according to SBJ.
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