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ESPN, Wimbledon Agree To Media Rights Extension

The network has held exclusive rights to the tournament since 2012.

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: All England Lawn Tennis Club

The Championships, Wimbledon isn’t going anywhere soon as the All England Lawn Tennis Club agreed to an extension with ESPN. The new deal keeps every point of the tournament on ESPN’s platforms until 2035.

The current deal runs out in 2024, and this one picks right up where that one leaves off. The all-white attire and pageantry of the event will be on full display for the network through the better part of the next 15 years.

“The sporting world recognizes that Wimbledon is equated with excellence, and we are thrilled and proud to continue our close relationship with the AELTC,” ESPN President of Programming and Original Content Burke Magnus said. “Wimbledon is a tentpole event on the global sports calendar and the ESPN schedule, and we will continue to use all our resources to present the drama, tradition, and stories of Wimbledon to fans in all ways possible.”

A new deal comes at the perfect time on the calendar as the knockout stages of “The Fortnight” are in full swing. Champions will be crowned in the men’s and women’s singles this weekend.

“We are absolutely delighted to have extended this important partnership into the next decade,” AELTC Commercial & Media Director Mick Desmond said. “ESPN has transformed the storytelling of Wimbledon throughout the Americas with their first ball to last ball commitment and their creative storytelling techniques. We are really looking forward to continuing to take the relationship from strength to strength and provide sports fans in the Americas with access to Wimbledon through ESPN’s unrivaled network of platforms.”

ESPN continues its 140-plus hours of coverage surrounding the event and will also start airing middle weekend matches on ABC, starting next year. ESPN also now has the Brazilian broadcast rights to the tournament. The network first acquired rights to Wimbledon back in 2003, gaining exclusive rights in 2012.

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

Jordan Bondurant

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YES Network

The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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