ESPN Outbids NBC to End its 43-Year Media Rights to Wimbledon

July 6, 2011

NBC were outbid by cable network ESPN to lose out in the US broadcast rights for the Wimbledon tennis championships, effectively ending their 43-year association with The All England Club as rights holder for the event.

Although terms of the deal were not disclosed it is known that ESPN has signed on to a 12-year deal, beginning 2012 to showcase the championships. The announcement made yesterday, July 5, was somewhat expected with regards to the long-term rights holder missing out after NBC said in a statement on Sunday, July 3, that “while we would have liked to have continued our relationship, we were simply outbid.”

ESPN already held the rights to air the early rounds of Wimbledon, though the newly obtained, comprehensive coverage from start to finish across a variety of platforms will result in more tennis for fans and all of it live, an official release states.

ESPN will present Wimbledon on its array of multimedia platforms, including both ESPN and ESPN2 simultaneously the second Monday-Wednesday. This will allow for expanded coverage of the Round of 16 and live telecasts of all quarterfinals, something NBC had been criticized for not doing.

ESPN will televise the semi-finals and finals, as well as broadcasting a highlights show on the “middle Sunday” of the tournament on ABC. In addition to the newly acquired rights, all of ESPN’s existing coverage will continue – television, broadband, mobile, and other rights in the US, Latin America and Canada.

Through 2023, the television schedule will increase to more than 140 hours, up from 100 hours since 2003, including full live national coverage of the semi-finals and finals.’s schedule will expand to 750 hours from 650 hours, also with the semi-finals and finals presented live.

Ian Ritchie, chief executive of The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), said: “We are delighted to be extending our partnership with ESPN, in a move which will consolidate our U.S. media rights under the auspices of a single partner. 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.”

George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN and ABC Sports, added: “We are proud to have been a partner of The All England Club the past nine years and are thrilled to be given continuing responsibility for honoring Wimbledon’s rich tradition. Over the next 12 years, we’ll work closely together to move coverage of this great event forward with live coverage on television and using all the latest technologies and screens.”