We rave quite a bit about ESPN’s global soccer coverage that is one of the best things the network does. However, another sport ESPN covers supremely well that doesn’t get quite the same amount of appreciation is tennis. Like their soccer coverage, ESPN’s work with tennis is comprehensive, intelligent, and perhaps most importantly – live. That’s why after a couple generations, the news last year that ESPN was taking over the entire fortnight at Wimbledon from NBC to show all matches live was met with approval.
In taking over the entirety of the Wimbledon coverage, ESPN is taking a page out of NBC’s old playbook. Michael Hiestand of USA Today reports ESPN is bringing back a “Breakfast at Wimbledon” pregame show on some days of the tournament, a concept NBC used several years ago before turning it solely into a marketing strategy..
ESPN becomes the sole U.S. TV outlet for the tennis grand slam on grass this month when it kicks off June 25. But while NBC used the line largely as a marketing hook, ESPN also will use it as the title of a new hour-long pregame show that will air, at either 7 or 8 a.m. ET depending on action, during the tournament’s middle Saturday and last four days.
“Throughout the (TV) negotiations with the All-England Club, they asked us to look at bringing back the moniker,” says ESPN programmer Jason Bernstein.
Hiestand also reports the addition of Mike Tirico as a host for the event. While Tirico’s main role at ESPN is the play by play man of Monday Night Football, he may be the most versatile, talented announcer at the network. Remember the solid job he did hosting the World Cup in 2010 from South Africa? He’s also equally adept at calling the NBA and golf coverage, which may still be his best role. Earlier in April, ESPN announced they hired John McEnroe as lead analyst as well, who is one of the most respected analysts in sports. With these moves in addition to the expansive, live coverage from London, it looks like ESPN’s commitment to and coverage of tennis is only getting stronger.