The Wimbledon Championships are one of the greatest traditions in international sport. For years Canadian coverage of the finals has aired on Global. A channel that most everybody can get with just an antenna. This year everything changes as TSN takes over exclusive Canadian coverage of the entire fortnight of The Championships.
The story is much the same in America where ESPN now hold exclusive rights. For more than 40 years NBC broadcast Wimbledon to American audiences. They inaugurated Breakfast at Wimbledon, delivering the ladies’ and gentlemen’s finals live to American audiences in the early morning hours. The major problem with NBC’s coverage was tape delay during the important second week of The Championships. NBC would force west coast viewers to watch matches on a 3 hour delay. And as a result ESPN’s afternoon ET matches were also not broadcast at all on the west coast. This wasn’t an issue in Canada because TSN broadcast most coverage live. However, it is one of the primary reasons why Wimbledon has moved away from Global and NBC to TSN and ESPN for the next ten years.
ESPN will carry on and enhance the Breakfast at Wimbledon tradition. All four semifinals will air live for the first time in America. ESPN will also broadcast five pregame shows under the “Breakfast at Wimbledon” moniker. And while over-the-air coverage is a thing of the past in Canada, ABC will broadcast three highlights shows south of the 49th.
One of the most important parts of the new TSN deal for Canadians is it includes online streaming for TSN.ca. Select matches that are not on TSN or TSN2 will be available live online.
Overall, I’m not sure whether to embrace the new ESPN coverage, or long for the tradition of NBC. Breakfast at Wimbledon on NBC (well actually Global) is my first memory of watching tennis. For seven straight years from the time I began watching tennis I witnessed Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final on NBC. Their coverage had the feeling that it was important. Historical even. The task for ESPN is to carry that tradition on to their network. The next two weeks will tell whether they can.
ESPN’s broadcast team for the Wimbledon Championships is led by hosts and play-by-play commentators Chris Fowler and Mike Tirico. Fowler is ESPN’s top commentator, while Tirico is making his Wimbledon debut. Hannah Storm is also a part of ESPN’s coverage as a studio host. ESPN’s other main play-by-play commentator is veteran Cliff Drysdale. Analysts include John McEnroe, Patrick McEnroe, Darren Cahill, Brad Gilbert, Chris Evert, Mary Joe Fernandez and Pam Shriver.
Continue after the break for a complete Wimbledon broadcast schedule. All times are Eastern.