I don’t know why I made a Casablanca reference in the headline, but it seemed to be right. Starting this year, ESPN begins the first of a 12 year partnership with the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club to televise the Championships Wimbledon from start to finish. It marks the first time that all of the action will be seen on one network from beginning to end.
ESPN will start its coverage of the first four days of the Fortnight on ESPN2, Monday, June 25. Then the ESPN Mothership will air its first-ever action from SW19 starting on Friday, June 25.
What makes ESPN’s coverage unique will be that both ESPN and ESPN2 will carry matches simultaneously starting with the Round of 16 on Monday, July 2 through the Gentlemen’s Quarterfinals on Wednesday, July 4.
From Thursday, July 5 through Sunday, July 8, ESPN will be the network of record for Wimbledon ending with the Gentlemen’s Finals.
I already told you about the “Breakfast at Wimbledon” pre-match program that premieres on the middle Saturday of action on June 29 and will air consecutively from July 5 – 8.
For those of you who don’t have cable, ESPN throws scraps to ABC with a highlight program on the middle Sunday, June 30 from 3 – 6 p.m. ET and again the following weekend by showing the Ladies and Gentlemen’s Finals on tape delay. If both matches end under three hours, then they’ll be shown in their entirety.
Altogether, ESPN and ESPN2 will air a total of 140 hours of tennis action. ESPN 3D which 73 people across the country will carry the Gentlemen’s Quarterfinals through to the Final. And ESPN3 will have a lot of matches that won’t be seen on TV. Got it? Good.
And I buried the lede. The most important thing in all this? No more NBC tape delayed shenanigans! Everything will be live!
Here’s ESPN’s press release on the whole Wimbledon enchilada.
140 Live Hours on ESPN & ESPN2 including “Cross Court Coverage,” Highlights on ABC, Nine Screens on ESPN3
John McEnroe Makes ESPN/Wimbledon Debut, “Breakfast at Wimbledon” Returns as ESPN Preview Show
A new era of television coverage for one of sport’s most prestigious and historic events will begin when ESPN presents The Championships, Wimbledon complete, live and exclusively across its networks from first ball Monday, June 25, with day-long marathon telecasts through to the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Finals, Saturday, July 7, and Sunday, July 8, respectively. ESPN’s 10th Wimbledon will expand to 140 live hours in high definition on ESPN HD and ESPN2 HD – including three days when the two networks offer all-day “cross court coverage” (airing matches simultaneously) – plus highlights and reairs of both Finals on ABC. All the action on ESPN and ESPN2 is also available through WatchESPN online at WatchESPN.com and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app.
In addition, ESPN3 will also increase its schedule to more than 800 hours of a multi-screen offering – all available TV courts (up to nine) presented from first ball to last ball each day – which will be available along with ESPN and ESPN2’s action via the WatchESPN app. The service will also offer matches on demand after they occur.
The new schedule is the result of a 12-year agreement between ESPN and the All England Lawn Tennis Club announced just after the conclusion of the 2011 Championships.
As previously announced, ESPN 3D, which presented its first tennis at Wimbledon a year ago with one live match and others on delay, will televise five days of action live from Centre Court. ESPN 3D’s coverage will begin with the Gentlemen’s quarterfinals Wednesday, July 4, and continue through the Finals. Each day’s telecast will be reaired that night at 9 p.m.
“This Wimbledon is the culmination of a dream we at ESPN have had for more than 10 years, to deliver every match and every key moment live as it happens to fans wherever they are,” said John Skipper, ESPN president. “The Club entrusted the care of their wonderful event to us and we intend to fulfill their trust and present a Wimbledon that uses modern technology to serve fans across all devices while being mindful of the great history and traditions of the fortnight.”
As previously announced, Hall of Famer John McEnroe is adding Wimbledon to his ESPN repertoire, having worked the US Open since 2009. He will be joined by returnees Darren Cahill, Cliff Drysdale, Mary Joe Fernandez, Brad Gilbert, Patrick McEnroe and Pam Shriver. Chris Fowler will call matches and serve as studio host, sharing that role with Hannah Storm and Mike Tirico. The voice of ESPN’s Monday Night Football, Tirico has worked the US Open for ESPN as a host and calling matches and will fill those roles in his Wimbledon debut. Tom Rinaldi will provide essays and features.
Surveying the Fields
Three players dominate the top of the men’s game with 28 of the last 29 Major championships – No. 1-ranked and defending champion, Novak Djokovic, two-time champ and No. 2 Rafael Nadal who recently defeated Djokovic for the French Open crown, and No. 3 Roger Federer, who counts six Wimbledon crowns in his tally of 16 Grand Slam titles. Everyone else – starting with British hopeful No. 4 Andy Murray seeking his first Grand Slam title and hoping to end Great Britain’s 76-year Wimbledon drought (Fred Perry, 1936) – is hoping for a slot in the semifinals.
Among the women, it’s a very different story. Six different women have won the last six Majors, but having regained the No. 1 ranking with the French Open championship, 2004 Wimbledon winner Maria Sharapova is the favorite in a crowded field. Serena Williams has four Wimbledon trophies, and looks to rebound from her first-round ouster in Paris and her No. 6 ranking. No. 2 Victoria Azarenka won this year’s Australian Open, No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska has never reached a Major semifinal, No. 4 Petra Kvitova is the defending champ, No. 5 Sam Stosur won the 2011 US Open and former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki is ranked No. 7. The field also includes two big names with a combined 11 Major titles – Venus Williams has five Wimbledon victories among her seven Major wins, and Kim Clijsters would love to add a Wimbledon crown to her collection of four Major victories in what is likely her final Wimbledon, having announced she will retire this year.
Scheduling Highlights: All Live, ESPN & ESPN2’s “Cross Court Coverage” for “Greatest Day in Tennis”
For the first time in the U.S., ESPN networks will show all of Wimbledon live, from first ball through the finals, including up to nine courts simultaneously on ESPN3 and an unprecedented ESPN/ESPN2 dual network “cross court coverage” approach for July 2-4:
- ESPN2 HD will begin daylong live weekday programming Monday, June 25, at 6:30 a.m. and continuing each weekday through Wednesday, July 4, at 7 a.m. (except Friday, June 29)
- ESPN HD will first be live on Friday, June 29, from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. and then on Saturday, June 30, starting at 7 a.m. with Breakfast at Wimbledon, a one-hour preview of the day’s matches that marks the return of the iconic branding after that being featured on air for many years. Breakfast at Wimbledon will also precede the network’s live, national telecasts of the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Semifinals and Finals, Thursday, July 5 – Sunday, July 8.
- On the “middle Sunday,” a scheduled day off as is Wimbledon tradition, ABC will broadcast a three-hour review of the first week at 3 p.m. ABC will also reair the finals on the day they take place, July 7 and 8 at 3 p.m.
- For the second Monday – Wednesday (July 2-4), ESPN will be live alongside ESPN2 to allow for live coverage of each and every match from the Round of 16 and Quarterfinals. In this unprecedented “Cross Court Coverage,” ESPN will focus on Centre Court matches while ESPN2 offers fans a “grounds pass” with action from Court 1 and other courts. The first of these three days, Monday, July 2 – when all 32 players are on the court in eight Gentlemen’s and eight Ladies’ Round of 16 matches, something that is unique to Wimbledon – is commonly referred to as “the greatest day in tennis.”
- ESPN 3D will pick up coverage with live Centre Court action Wednesday, July 4 through the Finals.
- ESPN3 will provide a multi-court offering of live play, including a simulcast of ESPN and ESPN2, with all-day coverage from all nine TV courts plus press conferences totaling more than 800 hours. In addition, the service – which reaches more than 73 million U.S. homes – will offer replays on demand.
ESPN3 is ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, a 24/7 destination that delivers thousands of global sports events annually and accessible online via WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold level members. It is currently available to 73 million homes at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated service provider. The network is also available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers connected to on-campus educational networks and on-base military networks.
The WatchESPN App – for fans who receive ESPN’s linear networks as part of their video subscription via Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Verizon FiOS TV or Comcast Xfinity – will provide access to for ESPN2’s live coverage online at WatchESPN.com and through the WatchESPN app on smartphones and tablets, in addition to ESPN3’s multi-screen offering.
ESPN On Demand (TV/Mobile) will offer historic matches and highlights of the 2012 Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ finals.
ESPN Mobile will provide point-by-point coverage of every Wimbledon match with live scores on the ESPN mobile Web and ScoreCenter app. Additionally, ESPN will offer video highlights of Wimbledon via the ScoreCenter app for iPhone. ESPN Alerts will also notify fans who opt in to receive alerts of developing stories, match results and highlights.
ESPN Mobile TV will simulcast 105 hours of live ESPN/ESPN2 coverage throughout the tournament.
ESPN Interactive TV, now in its fifth year at Wimbledon, will provide multi-screen coverage of five matches in addition to the match airing on ESPN2 or ESPN through the second Monday of the tournament on ESPN3 and through DirecTV. Fans will also receive interviews, features, press conferences and, new for 2012, a studio wrap-around presence hosted by SportsCenter anchor Ryan Burr with a roster of guest analysts. In addition to the video offerings, DirecTV viewers can access results, schedules, draws and other interactive features through the remote control “Red Button.” In total, ESPN will provide more than 350 hours of coverage through this unique application.
ESPN Classic will air four great Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Finals from the past, each upon a significant anniversary – matches won by Bjorn Borg (1977), Jimmy Connors (1982), Andre Agassi (1992) and Roger Federer (2007). Each match will air twice on the day of the anniversary (except Federer’s 2007 victory, which took place on July 8).
Date Times (ET) Event Mon, July 2 1 a.m. & 10 p.m. 1977 Gentlemen’s Final: 35th Anniversary of Bjorn Borg defeating Jimmy Connors for the second of five consecutive Wimbledon titles Wed, July 4 1 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. 1982 Gentlemen’s Final: 30th Anniversary of Jimmy Connors defeating John McEnroe in five sets Thur, July 5 1 a.m. & 6:30 p.m. 1992 Gentlemen’s Final: 20th Anniversary of 22-year old Andre Agassi defeating Goran Ivanisevic Mon, July 9 2 a.m. & 11 a.m. 2007 Gentlemen’s Final: 5th Anniversary of Roger Federer’s Fifth Wimbledon title, defeating Rafael Nadal
More Wimbledon from ESPN, Inc.
ESPN.com will have previews, reviews, the latest news and videos and more:
- Courtcast: A multi-tool application with live events via the ESPN3 syndicated player, all-court scoring, match stats, Cover It Live conversations, poll questions, rolling Twitter feeds and scrolling bottom line;
- Slam Central: A daily destination for all Wimbledon fixtures;
- Five Things We Learned: Video series reviewing the top news of the day;
- Grass Stains: A daily notebook wrapping up the best and worst of the day;
- Digital Serve: Daily original videos previewing the next day;
- Star Watch: Daily blog focusing on one of the game’s elite.
espnW.com will offer daily columns, blog posts and video, with an emphasis on the women’s side of the tournament.
ESPNDeportes.com will provide live scores and draws, in depth news and coverage of Latin American players, columns, blogs, live chats, video, highlights and news, including ESPiando Wimbledon that will recap the day’s play.
ESPN International will reach 33 million homes in Spanish speaking Latin America and the Caribbean with over 90 live hours of television across ESPN Latin America and ESPN Caribbean. In addition to daily primetime highlight programs on ESPN Latin America, ESPN+ in the Southern Cone and ESPN Dos in the Northern Cone will supplement the coverage on ESPN Latin America with an additional 50+ live hours. Also, ESPN’s broadband service, ESPN Play, will offer over 700 hours of live coverage throughout both regions with over 10 simultaneous early round windows available.
ESPN & WIMBLEDON 2012
Date Time (ET) Event Network Mon, June 25 6:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2/ESPN3 Live Tue, June 16 – Thur, June 28 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2/ESPN3 (begins at 6:30 a.m.) Live Fri, June 29 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN/ESPN3 Live Sat, June 30 7 – 8 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN/ESPN3 Live 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Quarterfinals ESPN/ESPN3 Live Sun, July 1 3 – 6 p.m. Highlights of Week One ABC Tape Mon, July 2 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Round of 16 ESPN2/ESPN3 Live 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Round of 16, Centre Court ESPN/ESPN3 Live Tue, July 3 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. Ladies’ Quarterfinals ESPN2/ESPN3 Live 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Ladies’ Quarterfinals,
ESPN/ESPN3 Live Wed, July 4 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. Gentlemen’s Quarterfinals ESPN2/ESPN3 Live 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Gentlemen’s Quarterfinals, Centre Court ESPN/ESPN3D/ESPN3 Live Thur, July 5 7 – 8 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN/ESPN3 Live 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Ladies’ Semifinals ESPN/ESPN3D/ESPN3 Live Fri, July 6 7 – 8 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN/ESPN3 Live 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Gentlemen’s Semifinals ESPN/ESPN3D/ESPN3 Live Sat, July 7 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN/ESPN3 Live 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Ladies’ Final ESPN/ESPN3D/ESPN3 Live 3 – 6 p.m. Ladies’ Final ABC Tape Sun, July 8 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN/ESPN3 Live 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Gentlemen’s Final ESPN/ESPN3D/ESPN3 Live 3 – 6 p.m. Gentlemen’s Final ABC Tape
And that is the end of a very lengthy press release.