U.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.