Wimbledon 2013: ESPN All In at The All England Club

Novak Djokovic was the winner when the All England Lawn Tennis Club released the gentlemen’s singles draw for the 2013 Wimbledon fortnight.

The world No. 1 and 2011 titlist is seeded first at The Championships and would play No. 4 David Ferrer in the semis if form holds.  Djoker and Ferrer are slated to meet No. 7 Tomas Berdych and No. 8 Juan Martin Del Potro, respectively, in the quarterfinals.

Meanwhile the other members of tennis’ Big Four reside on the opposite side of the draw. Seven-time and defending champion Roger Federer, who is seeded third, and No. 5 Rafa Nadal, who won the 2008 and 2010 tournaments, would meet each other in the quarters. Last year’s runner-up Andy Murray topped Federer for the gold medal at 2012 London Olympics just weeks after the all-time Grand Slam king pushed his tally to 17. Murray, a Scot looking to become the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry reigned in 1936, might face the survivor of the latest incarnation of the Roger-Rafa rivalry, provided he took care of business against No. 6 seed Jo Wilifried Tsonga in the quarters.

On the ladies’ side, the question is whether No. 2 Victoria Azarenka, No. 3 Maria Sharapova, last year’s finalist and No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, or anyone else, can mount a threat to the 2012 queen Serena Williams. Now, firmly re-established as world No. 1, Williams also took home Olympic gold last summer at this venue and earlier this month captured a second French Open, adding another Coupe Suzanne Lenglen to her majors' mantle now home to 16 singles Slam trophys and counting. Sniping at one another over personal issues, Williams and Sharapova can only meet in the finals  -- Serena beat Maria at Roland Garros .

The possible women's quarterfinals: Williams vs. No. 7 Angelique Kerber;  Radwanska vs. No. 6 Li Na; Sharapova against No. 5 Sara Errani; and Azarenka vs. eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion.

Whether the action plays out as expected or to an upset-laden form on the famed lawns, ESPN and its various platforms will be there from the initial serve to championship point. Beginning Monday, June 24, ESPN platforms will put the ball in play on 140 telecast hours, plus 800 on broadband service ESPN3’s multiscreen presentation of all 10 TV courts, through the women’s and men’s finals on July 6 and July 7, respectively (see schedule below).

Tennis Channel will also return to the courts with its Wimbledon Primetime show presenting highlights and match encores throughout the tourney.

All of the grass court moments on ESPN and ESPN2 are available through WatchESPN online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox Live to Gold members.  It is accessible in 55 million households that receive ESPN’s linear networks as part of their video subscription through Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Verizon FiOS TV, Comcast Xfinity TV, Midcontinent, Cablevision, Charter, Cox and AT&T U-verse.

During its first fortnight as the sole U.S.rights-holders -- the worldwide leader outbid NBC after the 2011 tourney on a 12-year pact-- ESPN racked up solid Nielsens and a younger audience with its live coverage.

ESPN/ESPN2’s exclusive coverage averaged a 0.7 rating up 40% from a 0.5, as average viewership jumped 65% to 981,000 from 596,000, according to Nielsen data. The cable networks’ combined coverage matched the 0.7 ratings mark of ESPN2 and NBC from 2011, but male demos grew significantly: 37% among guys 18 to 34 and 18 to 49, and 28% among men 25 to 54.

The women’s final – Williams over Radwanska in three sets – averaged a 2.0 national rating, up 5% from  2011, while Federer’s four-set triumph over Murray garnered a 2.5, 35% greater the 1.9 for NBC's final telecast from the All England Club, Djokovic over Nadal. Federer-Murray drew 3.9 million watchers, ESPN’s largest audience with the sport that it has been covering since 1979.

The performance by ESPN’s digital vehicles nearly tripled from 2011, with ESPN3/WatchESPN registering 126 million live minutes of viewing across all platforms, up 182%. WatchESPN and ESPN3 enjoyed its best day of the fortnight with the Federer-Murray match --nearly 23.6 million total live minutes were generated across all platforms. The next best day was Friday, July 7, with 16.2 million.

ESPN will bring its veteran tennis crew across The Pond, with Chris Fowler and Mike Tirico calling matches and serving as studio hosts. For her part, Hannah Storm will lead the Breakfast at Wimbledon preview programs. They will be joined by Darren Cahill, Cliff Drysdale, Chris Evert, Mary Joe Fernandez, Brad Gilbert, Pam Shriver and the brothers McEnroe, Patrick and John. Tom Rinaldi will provide reports, features and also call some matches. ESPN.com's LZ Granderson will also serve as a studio analyst and feature reporter.

ESPN (Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday) and ESPN2 (Wednesday and Thursday) will alternate daylong live weekday action during the event's first week, starting  at 7 a.m.

Breakfast at Wimbledon returns as a one-hour preview on ESPN of the day’s matches Saturday, June 29, and the live, national telecasts of the gentlemen’s and ladies’ semifinals and finals July 4-7.

After debuting “cross court coverage” last year, ESPN HD and ESPN2 HD again will be live for three days to start the fortnight’s second week.  The networks will televise all of the competition from July 1 – widely considered the greatest day in tennis as the round of 16 matches unfold on both genders' side of the net – through July 3, when each of the quarterfinals warrants the spotlight. ESPN will focus on Centre Court, while ESPN2 airs matches from Court One and elsewhere around the grounds. 

On the “middle Sunday,” June 30, ABC will broadcast a three-hour review of the first week at 3 p.m.  ABC will also air encore presentations of the finals on the day they take place, July 6 and 7 at 3 p.m.

Although the programming giant will shutter the service by year-end, ESPN 3D will again televise five days of action live from Centre Court, beginning with the men’s quarterfinals on July 3 and continuing through the finals.

Now in its sixth year at Wimbledon, ESPN Interactive TV will provide multiscreen coverage of five matches in addition to the contest airing on ESPN2 or ESPN through the second Monday of the tournament on DirecTV. Subscribers to the top DBS service will also receive interviews, features, press conferences and a studio wrap-around presence hosted by SportsCenter anchor Steve Weissman, along with a roster of guest analysts. In addition to the video offerings, DirecTV viewers can access results, schedules, draws and other interactive features through the remote control “red button.”  All told, ESPN will provide more than 350 hours of coverage via this application.

For those who miss the live coverage or just can’t get enough from the Big W, Tennis Channel's coverage starts with the first day of play on June 24 and continues nightly through the final weekend. Wimbledon Primetime will typically air from 5 p.m. (ET) each afternoon until 8:30 p.m. This first edition will be followed immediately by a second, entirely new three-and-a-half-hour show from 8:30 p.m.-midnight. Exceptions to this schedule will come on the weekends. On the middle Sunday, Wimbledon Primetime will focus on the best of week one, and air one edition from 7 p.m.-11 p.m. The following weekend, Saturday, July 6, and Sunday, July 7, also will feature single editions from 7 p.m.-11 p.m. each night, as the tournament concludes and champions are crowned.

Tennis will run encore editions of Wimbledon Primetime throughout the late night and early-morning time slots until 7 a.m., on the eve of the following day's play. Nightly encores usually will begin at midnight with 11 p.m. starts on altered-schedule evenings. Overall, the network plans close to 90 hours of first-run Wimbledon Primetime coverage during the tournament, with late-night encores doubling the overall number of hours to more than 180.


* - ESPN3 will start at 6:30 a.m. ET each day June 24 – July 5 (no matches June 30)