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Summary:

U.S. tennis fans will have unprecedented free access to live broadband and mobile coverage of Wimbledon when the 2009 tourney starts June 22…

imageU.S. tennis fans will have unprecedented free access to live broadband and mobile coverage of Wimbledon when the 2009 tourney starts June 22 — as long as they have access to ESPN360.com and *ESPN* Mobile. MediaZone, which sold a subscription package for the last few years, is out of the picture completely now, focusing instead on its Rugby and South African channels.

ESPN (NYSE: DIS) won’t say if it paid more to nearly double its live broadband coverage on ESPN360.com and increase its live mobile streaming of the Grand Slam tennis event by more than 50 percent. The expanded deal with The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club comes a year after a six-year extension through 2013 was announced.

ESPN360 already has the U.S. rights to show live coverage of all four tennis Grand Slams, with plans to show more than 275 hours of the French Open that starts this weekend. The Wimbledon agreement, which also includes added highlights for ESPN.com and ESPNdeportes.com, covers the Americas (U.S., Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Does not include Brazil.) Some of the highlights:

– ESPN360.com will cover all courts live during the early rounds, for a total of nearly 650 hours through the semi-finals. The broadband net also will simulcast the nearly 100 hours of ESPN2 coverage.

– The finals will be available on demand the morning after they’re played. With the new roof over Centre Court preventing weather delays, the finals should take place over the weekend when most would watch them on TV.

Mobile: ESPN Mobile TV will show more than 80 hours and Wimbledon Central, the live scoring app, will be available on the ESPN Mobile website.

  1. Sporting events have become very popular for live streaming. Viewership stats during the Olympic Games and March Madness 2009 as well as the success of NHL’s and MLB’s online video offering showed that fans want and do watch athletic events online. In the future, more and more sports-oriented video portals will launch. And a lot of them will be very niche, with targeted audiences and very specific advertisers/sponsors.

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  2. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could see more of the French Open this year through ESPN2 and Tennis Channel without having to pay more to DISH. However, Tennis Channel has now disappeared from the channels I can get which concerns me for my Wimbledon coverage. Does this mean I will have to spend more money to watch the coverage I would like to see on ESPN or Tennis Channel? It is too bad that these problems are not simplified for the public so we could just watch the events and the advertisements of the sponsors. Last year I just had to miss much as I cannot afford to upgrade DISH.

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  3. Wesley Etheridge Thursday, June 18, 2009

    This is tragic news. I don't have access to ESPN360 and, residing in the Easter time zone and a resident of Long Island, I work during the vast majority of television coverage hours and, like most Long Islanders, utilize Cablevision as my Internet service provider. Mediazone allowed me to download matches then watch them at my convenience no matter who my ISP was.

    ESPN360 is not accessible via Cablevision.

    Now I am forced to have my husband tape extensive coverage of all matches and sift through it all to watch one or two matches.

    Thanks, ESPN!

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  4. Staci D. Kramer Thursday, June 18, 2009

    @wesley etheridge Curious, why don't you complain to Cablevision about not carrying ESPN360? Or to Wimbledon for not finding a different solution?

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