ESPN is set to secure full rights to the Wimbledon tennis tournament, ending broadcast network NBC's 43 years of tournament coverage.
The 24-hour sports network has set a noon press conference today during which it is expected to announce the deal, which would give ESPN full live coverage of the England-based pro tennis grand slam tournament.
The new, 12-year agreement with the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club begins in 2012 and will allow ESPN to present Wimbledon on its multimedia array of platforms, including both ESPN and ESPN2 simultaneously during the second Monday-Wednesday of the tournament.
The deal will allow for expanded coverage of the Round of 16 and live telecasts of all quarterfinals. ESPN will televise the semifinals and finals, while ABC will broadcast a three-hour highlights show on the "middle Sunday" of the tournament, and will reair the finals on a same-day basis at 3 p.m. ET.
In addition to the newly acquired rights, all of ESPN's existing coverage will continue -- television, broadband, mobile, and other rights in the U.S., Latin America and Canada (through 2021). Through 2023, the television schedule will increase to more than 140 hours, including full live national coverage of the semifinals and finals. ESPN3.com's schedule will expand to 750 hours, also with the semifinals and finals presented live.
George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN and ABC Sports said in a statement: "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."
The deal was first reported by SportsBusiness Daily. NBC Sports released a statement over the July 4th weekend saying that it was "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."