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NBC out, ESPN in, no more Wimbledon tape delay

July 3, 2011 |  3:31 pm

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Beginning next year, ESPN will televise all of the Wimbledon tennis tournament and will broadcast the entire event live, according to two people familiar with the negotiations who could not speak publicly about those contract talks.

NBC released a statement confirming a story first reported by the Sports Business Journal that it had finished its last contracted Wimbledon broadcast Sunday at the end of the men's final, won by Novak Djokovic over Rafael Nadal.

"We are proud of our 43-year partnership with the All England Club and while we would have liked to have continued our relationship, we were simply outbid," NBC's statement said.

An ESPN spokesman declined to comment.

It was NBC that began what it called the "Breakfast at Wimbledon" tradition, with live telecasts of the women's and men's finals beginning at 6 a.m. PDT on Saturdays and Sundays. But the network recently had angered West Coast viewers by tape-delaying semifinals coverage Thursday and Friday because of its insistence on televising its regular morning "Today" show.

According to two sources familiar with the negotiations, NBC's bid included showing matches live beginning in 2014 while ESPN plans to make its coverage live beginning next year.

ESPN shares rights for the Australian Open (including live semifinal and final coverage) with the Tennis Channel; shares rights to the French Open with Tennis Channel and NBC; and shares rights with Tennis Channel and CBS for the U.S. Open.

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-- Diane Pucin, reporting from Wimbledon, England

Photo: Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic play in Sunday's men's final at Wimbledon on Sunday. Credit: Julian Finney / Getty Images

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