There was a lot of anger over NBC’s decision to tape delay the Wimbledon women’s semifinals today. Interestingly enough, the Maria Sharapova-Sabine Lisicki match ended before NBC took the air at noon ET so those who were monitoring the contest through backdoor websites knew the results before NBC started. ESPN2 did air the Petra Kvitova-Victoria Azarenka match live, but could not make any mention of Sharapova-Lisicki until NBC hit the air which is just ridiculous.
NBC made a statement to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch about Friday’s coverage of the men’s semifinals which will again fall under these silly rules. ESPN2 will take the Jo-Wilfried Tsonga-Novak Djokovic match live at 8:15 a.m. ET while NBC will show the Andy Murray-Rafael Nadal match. This will be seen at noon in all time zones. NBC will not show the match online outside of its noon window and people will have to either resort to going to illegal websites to see a live stream (which I do not encourage you to do, but you do what you gotta do), or wait until noon in your time zone to see NBC’s coverage.
Now this is the last year for NBC’s contract with Wimbledon and Sports Illustated’s Jon Wertheim tweets that we should know next week the results of the bidding for the US rights for the next few years between NBC and ESPN. It will be interesting to see if the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club will keep the status quo with NBC/ESPN and Tennis Channel as the rightsholders or go with ESPN. ESPN2 and Tennis Channel still have two years to go on their deals. If ESPN takes NBC’s package, one can expect the silly tape delays to end. Perhaps under the new Mark Lazarus era at the NBC Sports Group, the tape delays will end altogether. Let us hope so.
UPDATE, 4:35 p.m.: One thing I omitted. Tomorrow’s Murray-Nadal match will be streamed online at NBCSports.com across the country live at noon ET. It will pick up NBC’s coverage of wherever the match is at that point and go live from then on. So if you live from the Central through the Pacific time zones, you can see the match live online when NBC picks up its coverage at noon ET so you don’t have to wait for your local affiliate to air tape delayed coverage.