ESPN will air Wimbledon live in 2012

26 May 2011
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ESPN plans to bring back live coverage fo Wimbledon to the United States, a country that has had only delayed tape coverage of tennis' marquee event for decades.

Die-hard tennis fans will now be able to set their alarms to catch match play live, or, for those less zealous fans, the delayed broadcasts will be aired too. Under the 12-year deal for the rights to the tournament, ESPN will broadcast the action live on ESPN and ESPN2, with ABC airing the replay later in the day, when more Americans are awake.

NBC Sports has previously claimed the broadcast rights for Wimbledon, for a staggering 43 years. However, it hasn't aired it live because it hasn't wanted to pre-empt its popular and revenue-generating morning shows, like Today. That decision had become an increasing sticking point in a world where the Internet, Twitter, Facebook and more make the outcome of matches and top action highlights a real-time information affair. NBC’s existing $13 million carriage agreement expired right after the finals of the 2011 tournament aired.

Specifics of the deal include: ESPN and ESPN2 will show the Round of 16 and broadcast the quarterfinals live; ESPN itself will carry live coverage of the semifinals and finals. ABC will show the finals later in the day, at 3 p.m. ET.
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