Special to NYSportsJournalism.com
June 16, 2014: ESPN may be supporting its self-proclaimed status as the "Worldwide Leader in Sports" with coverage from opening game to championship match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but it also has time to take on Wimbledon "from first ball to the trophies."
ESPN, which has been airing matches and ancillary reports from the tennis Grand Slam event in London since 2003, enhanced its coverage with full tournament U.S. exclusivity for live TV (with all other rights) in 2012 via a 12-year agreement with the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club.
For 2014, ESPN said it has plans for 140 live hours across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS and ABC; and a record 1,000 live hours on ESPN3 (where viewers can choose to watch from as many as nine courts).
Wimbledon live coverage begins June 23 and runs through the women's championship on July 5 and the men's title on July 6.
Tennis Channel, which has been covering Wimbledon since 2008, said it would dedicate some 215 hours in its seventh year of nightly Wimbledon Primetime coverage, including a recap of each day’s action. news, analysis, in-depth interviews and encore matches. Beginning with the opening day of play, the three-and-a-half-hour show will air each evening of the two-week competition, followed by replays that run throughout the overnight and early morning. The network plans 85 first-run Wimbledon Primetime hours in 2014.
The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, which oversees the event, has what it refers to as a dozen official suppliers, including IBM, Hertz, Lanson Champagne, Ralph Lauren, HSVC financial services, Evian, Jacob's Creek wine, LavAzza coffee and espresso, Stella Artois, Robinsons Squash juices and Slazenger, which has been the official supplier of tennis balls since 1902.
ESPN brings to the table its own array of marketing partners.
Andy Murray comes in as defending champion, where in 2013 he was the first man from the U.K. in 77 years to win the Wimbledon crown.
Among the other top-ranked men, Novak Djokovic is playing for his second Wimbledon Grand Slam title, Rafael Nadal for his third and Roger Federer for his eighth (which would break the tournament record he shares with Pete Sampras).
The women's champ last year was Marion Bartoli, who retired from competitive tennis about a month later.
Maria Sharapova, who won at Wimbledon in 2004, comes in as the recently crowned French Open Grand Slam winner. Serena Williams has five Wimbledon titles, including three in the last five years.
ESPN.com is supporting broadcast coverage with previews, reviews, the latest news, videos and other programming.
WatchESPN will have ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS programming, accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app; and streamed on TV through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV to more than 92 million households nationwide via an affiliated video or Internet provider.
ESPN joined with the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club in an effort that saw the official ESPN Wimbledon poster created by the public-at-large. The winning poster (above) was created by David Bartholow, from Los Angeles, as selected by a panel of judges that included tennis legends and current ESPN analysts John McEnroe, Chris Evert and AELTC chairman Philip Brook.
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