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Behind the Broadcast: ESPN breaking new ground with Wimbledon coverage

Saturday, June 23, 2012
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It’s the dawn of a new era for fans of Wimbledon.

For the first time ever, one network will carry the tournament live from start to finish. The ESPN family of networks has the exclusive rights to show all of the matches live.

That means NBC, which had shown the matches on the weekends, including the finals on the second weekend, along with the second week of late-morning matches either live or delayed tape, won’t be involved. It will seem strange not having Ted Robinson in the booth calling the finals for NBC.

Here is the breakdown of coverage:

u ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will begin day-long, live weekday programming at 6:30 a.m. Monday and continuing each weekday through July 4 at 7 a.m. The only day during that stretch ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD won’t have coverage is Friday.

u ESPN and ESPN HD will start its coverage at 7 a.m. Friday. It will have “Breakfast at Wimbledon” several times — next Saturday at 7 a.m., and then for the telecasts of the men’s and women’s semifinals and finals July 5-8.

u Probably the most exciting part of the broadcast schedule for tennis fans will come during the second week. From July 2-4, ESPN and ESPN2 will be televising every match from the Round of 16 and quarterfinals live. ESPN will focus on Centre Court matches, while ESPN2 offers action from Court 1 and other courts.

July 2 will be the busiest of the days, with eight men’s and eight women’s matches going on during the Round of 16.

u Fans will be able to watch the matches on the computer or their smartphone. ESPN3 will provide a multi-court offering of live play, including a simulcast of ESPN and ESPN2, with all-day coverage from all nine TV courts plus press conferences totaling more than 800 hours. In addition, the service will offer replays on demand.

u If you happen to have a 3D tel­evision, ESPN 3D will pick up coverage with live Centre Court action from July 4 through the finals.

u Even ABC will get in on the act. It will have a three-hour review of the first week at 3 p.m. next Sunday, the traditional off day for Wimbledon. ABC will re-air the women’s and men’s finals next weekend.

“This Wimbledon is the culmination of a dream we at ESPN have had for more than 10 years, to deliver every match and every key moment live as it happens to fans wherever they are,” ESPN president John Skipper said. “The club entrusted the care of their wonderful event to us, and we intend to fulfill their trust and present a Wimbledon that uses modern technology to serve fans across all devices while being mindful of the great history and traditions of the fortnight.”

It should be interesting to watch.

NBA Finals ratings

The NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder averaged an 11.8 rating, ABC said Friday.

The rating matches last year’s Finals rating between the Heat and Dallas Mavericks. But that series took six games. The Heat-Thunder series took five games.

Thursday’s game, in which the Heat won the NBA title, averaged a 12.6 overnight rating, equal to last year’s Game 5.

CBS sports radio

CBS Corporation announced the formation of CBS Sports Radio on Thursday.

Cumulus Media is the network’s exclusive syndicator and sales partner to secure affiliate agreements and ad sales with radio stations nationwide through Cumulus Media Networks.

Beginning on Tuesday, Sept. 4, CBS Sports updates can be heard on all network affiliate stations, which includes WFAN-AM (660). A 24/7 all-sports talk radio lineup will start Jan. 2.

The announcement came 10 days after NBC Sports Group announced it was starting NBC Sports Radio Network in September.

Parting shots

The final Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees gets the

national treatment this weekend. FOX Sports (FOX23 and FOX23 HD) has tonight’s game at 7. ESPN and ESPN HD have Sunday’s game at 8 p.m. . . .

Tonight’s Yankees-Mets game could be interesting, and not just because of what is happening on the diamond. The unpredictable Charlie Sheen will visit announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver during the game. He will be promoting his new FX comedy series, “Anger Management,” which starts Thursday. Sheen has a reputation as being a wild, unstable guy. If that surfaces during his visit, the game action may take a back seat. . . .

NHL Network and NHL Network HD will have rounds 2-7 of the NHL draft at 10 a.m. today. Union sophomore defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere could be selected. . . .

ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD have Game 1 of the College World Series championship round at 8 p.m. Sunday. . . .

NBC Sports (NBC13 and NBC13 HD) has U.S. Olympic Trials action this weekend. The diving events are at 4 p.m. today and 3 p.m. Sunday. Track and field is on at 8 tonight and 7 p.m. Sunday. . . .

MSG Plus and MSG Plus HD televise the Mother Goose Stakes from Belmont Park at 5 p.m. today. . . .

The final two quarterfinal-round matches from the Euro 2012 soccer tournament take place this weekend. ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD have today’s game Spain and France at 2:30 p.m. Sunday’s England-Italy game at 2:30 p.m. is on ESPN and ESPN HD. . . .

There is a Major League Soccer double-header on Sunday. At 5 p.m., ESPN and ESPN HD have Seattle at Portland. NBC Sports Network and NBCSN HD televise the D.C. United-New York matchup at 7.

 
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