LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 03: Rafael Nadal of Spain and Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action on centre court during their final round Gentlemen's match on Day Thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 3, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

ESPN Wins Wimbledon, Secures Exclusive TV Rights Through 2023

The broadcast giant would wrest away Wimbledon rights from NBC, which has televised the event for 43 years.

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ESPN-Wimbledon Contract Grants Exclusive TV Rights Through 2023

News broke this weekend that ESPN would be acquiring Wimbledon broadcasting rights, and now the deal's official. ESPN announced Tuesday that they've reached an agreement to broadcast the tournament live across multiple platforms, including both the women's and men's finals.

As the press release explains: "ESPN has acquired the exclusive U.S. television rights to live action from The Championships, Wimbledon, including both the Ladies' and Gentlemen's Singles Finals, in a 12-year agreement with the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club beginning in 2012.  Comprehensive coverage from start to finish across a variety of platforms will result in more tennis for fans and all of it live."

The CEO of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, Ian Ritchie, added that, "This new agreement will bring increased live coverage of The Championships and ensure that the huge international audience for Wimbledon can now enjoy all the drama and colour of the Fortnight through a sustained narrative delivered with clarity, continuity and consistency across a wide range of platforms.”

It's a great day for tennis fans, and if nothing else, that's a testament to how frustrating NBC's coverage has been in recent years. Indeed, the "clarity, continuity, and consistency" he mentions will be a breath of fresh air for tennis fans that have been suffocated by NBC's uneven broadcast schedules.

Now, instead of having to guess whether big matches will be broadcast live or on tape delay, fans will be able to count on the ESPN family of networks to cover the madness as it happens. The added exposure should be mutually beneficial. It's a victory for ESPN, for Wimbledon, but most of all, it's a big win for tennis, in general. 

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ESPN Will Acquire Wimbledon Television Rights, NBC Confirms

Shortly after news broke that ESPN was close to acquiring the Wimbledon television right, NBC confirmed that the network will no longer carry the event. According to John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal, NBC issued the following statement:

We are proud of our 43-year partnership with the All England Club and while we would have liked to have continued our relationship, we were simply outbid."

Ourand also reports several details leading up to this decision. NBC's last proposal included coverage on multiple platforms and would have had the network show all the matches live starting in 2014. One other competitor for the Wimbledon television rights was Fox, but ESPN's bid won out after it reportedly offered around $400 million for at least the next decade.

An official announcement could come this week.

For more on the 2011 Wimbledon tournament and the world of tennis, visit SB Nation's tennis hub and The Daily Forehand.

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ESPN 'Close' To Deal For Wimbledon Rights After NBC Contract Expires

2011's Wimbledon was the 43rd consecutive iteration of the tournament to be broadcast by NBC. But ESPN is poised to acquire the rights to Wimbledon, making 2011 the last year of NBC's Wimbledon hegemony, according to the SportsBusiness Journal.

SBJ's John Ourand writes that sources inform him a deal linking ESPN and the third Grand Slam of the year is all but done:

(Sources) tell SportsBusiness Journal that the All England Club has decided to sell its full rights package to ESPN. An announcement could come as soon as this week.

ESPN is Wimbledon's current early rounds broadcast partner, and is looking to bring more premier sports programming to cable. Its deal with the All England Club for rights to the early rounds would be "folded into" this new deal.

NBC was in the final year of a four-year deal with the All England Club. NBC is often criticized by tennis fans for its choices to tape-delay matches, show only a small percentage of its inventory on NBC, and cut away from such non-play activity as trophy presentations.

But that deal, which cost an average of $13 million per year, expired with the end of the 2011 Wimbledon fortnight.

For more on the 2011 Wimbledon tournament and the world of tennis, visit SB Nation's tennis hub and The Daily Forehand.

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