Wimbledon Live Online

So today is the start of Wimbledon, and as ever, the BBC has enormously comprehensive coverage. On digital TV they have the exceptional service that allows you to pick and choose which game you watch, and this is all replicated online (for UK users). Five Live and Five Live Sports Xtra have commentaries available throughout the fortnight – the main service hosted by the estimable Simon Mayo.
Then there’s the official site which is run by IBM. There too you can listen to commentaries from Radio Wimbledon. It has three services this year (as previously noted, since they’re broadcast locally on FM too) which are free to listen to online. You’re also offered an even more comprehensive video service than that offered by the BBC (not that any significant match won’t be broadcast by the Beeb), which costs subscribers £12.90 for an “all access” pass. Only a diehard would pay up for this surely, although the catch-up service might be worthwhile for some (at this stage it’s not clear how many BBC games will be later available via the iPlayer).
All well and good. But then I had my weekly email from ITV.com with the following subject line: “Listen to Wimbledon live on itv.com!”
What? The BBC has a long-term deal in place, so what’s ITV up to?
The HTML email that ITV.com send out doesn’t render properly in Gmail, so I had to go exploring on ITV’s website, and sure enough, if you click through to the Sport section you get this:
“Listen now to live Radio Wimbledon coverage direct from the Championships
“The grass has been cut, the lines have been painted, the strawberries are ripe and the sun is out (hopefully). It can only mean one thing… Wimbledon is back and this year you can follow it right here on itv.com
“Throughout the next fortnight you can keep up to date with all the twists and turns from SW19 with a choice of three radio commentaries direct from the Championships.
“You can choose to follow the top seeds with commentaries from Centre Court and Court Number One, while we’ve also got the best of the rest from the outside courts.
“Remember to turn your speakers on, turn them up – and enjoy!”

Essentially ITV.com is rebroadcasting the official Radio Wimbledon coverage. It doesn’t launch neatly in a player like it does from the official Wimbledon site, but it’s certainly there.
It’s curious that ITV should enter into this arrangement. Tennis quite evidently isn’t core to them – indeed it’s impossible to actually think of a sport that’s “more” BBC and “less” ITV than tennis, and Wimbledon in particular.
Of course there’ll be a financial arrangement in place, and I’m sure that ITV.com will be happy with any additional pageviews. But you can’t help think that the BBC might be a little miffed, and it’s still an odd move.
[UPDATE] Media Guardain has the full story about this, seemingly last minute, deal struck between IMG on behalf of Wimbledon and ITV.com. I still find it slightly odd that non-exclusive audio that can also be found via the official Wimbledon website would generate such interest.
But the news release does explain one thing. It struck me that Wimbledon was putting an awful lot of effort into its radio offering by producing three radio streams seemingly for the website and some local RSLs. It seems that these are syndicated offerings made available to English language broadcasters throughout the world. Radio anorak that I am, I’d love to know where these services are being rebroadcast.

2 Comments

  1. I work for MediaZone, the company that is providing online coverage of Wimbledon, and we are really excited for this year. We work really hard to bring the best of tennis to your PC. Let us know what you think, we love to hear your feedback!

  2. Well all the best with your coverage. I think it’s safe to say that Wimbledon has the all round best online sports coverage of any event.

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