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NBC Sports, MediaZone Team Up on Wimbledon LIVE

Global online broadcaster MediaZone will begin playing doubles this weekend with NBC Sports, serving tennis fans the ultimate ace: Archival broadband footage from Wimbledons past before moving to over 300 live matches from this year’s tourney, as well on-demand contests during the upcoming fortnight.

Too good to be true? Or too good to be free?

MediaZone’s Wimbledon LIVE will be available on Wimbledon’s site and NBCSports.com for $24.95 for an all-access broadband pass from June 25 through the tournament’s conclusion July 8. A daily pass costs $4.95.

Visitor to the Web site this weekend can access free select full-length matches, including the 2005 men’s-final showdown between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick and match highlights from the 2006 tournament.

“With over 300 matches played over the fortnight, it's next to impossible to watch every match played throughout the tournament,” said Ian Ritchie, executive director of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, in a prepared statement. “The beauty of Wimbledon LIVE is that tennis enthusiasts now watch the matches of their choice at their convenience as a result of MediaZone's LIVE and video-on-demand features. No other tennis tournament in the world offers this type of flexibility and unprecedented depth of coverage.”

MediaZone is NBC Sports’ exclusive partner for presenting any sporting event that the Peacock Network holds the broadband rights to. With Wimbledon LIVE, users can watch action from up to nine courts at once if they choose.

“NBC Sports is committed to delivering the tradition and excitement of Wimbledon to our audience on all of our platforms,” said Perkins Miller, senior vice president of digital media at NBC Sports & Olympics, in a prepared statement. “We look forward to providing tennis fans with the most in-depth experience, from dozens of courts, from broadcast to online.”

ESPN will also swing its racket into the Wimbledon broadband action by airing three different channels on its broadband service, ESPN360. The first channel will provide live coverage from either Centre Court, Court One or an outer court. The second will serve a simulcast of what’s on ESPN2’s 123 hours of coverage, while the third will showcase live press conferences from the Media Centre.

ESPN360’s coverage begins with a live showing of the draw announcement June 22 at 5 a.m. (EST).

While ESPN, NBC and MediaZone will all follow Federer’s quest to win a fifth consecutive Wimbledon title this year, it is unclear which organizations will have the rights to the tourney in 2008. NBC’s and ESPN’s TV-rights contracts with the AELTC expire upon conclusion of the fortnight.

According to an ESPN spokesman, “Discussions have been underway with the [All England Lawn Tennis] Club.”

MediaZone works on a year-to-year basis with the AELTC.