The New Wimbledon a Winner for ESPN and Fans


The New Wimbledon a Winner for ESPN and Fans

ESPN Sets Wimbledon Records, Young Male Audience Grows, Digital Usage Soars

Live Championships This Weekend Have History Calling

The all-new, all-ESPN, all live Wimbledon is reaching more people, has brought ESPN its largest audiences in 10 years at the All England Lawn Tennis Club and a much younger audience to the television while driving a surge in consumption across digital platforms.

  • Through Wednesday, July 4, the audience for this year’s ESPN/ESPN2 presentation was 24 percent larger than ESPN2’s audience in 2011, 727,000 viewers (P2+), up from 588,000.  The average rating is up 20 percent, from 0.5 to 0.6 (U.S. ratings), according to Nielsen.
  • The ESPN/ESPN2 rating is equal to last year’s NBC/ESPN2 coverage, but the key male demographic groups are enjoying strong double-digit increases in impressions:  Men 18-34 up 28 percent, Men 18-49 up 30 percent, and Men 25-54 up 21 percent.
  • Two ESPN telecasts during the fortnight stand as ESPN’s most-watched ever from Wimbledon – 979,000 homes on Saturday, June 30 and 978,000 on Wednesday, July 4.  Each earned a 1.0 coverage rating, tying ESPN’s best ever at Wimbledon.  Two of the three previous 1.0 ratings also came on a July 4:  ESPN2 on July 4, 2007, for the Ladies’ Quarterfinals; ESPN on July 4, 2003, for a Gentlemen’s Semifinal; and ESPN on July 1, 2004, for a Ladies’ Semifinal.  Saturday’s 10-hour, 10-minute ESPN telecast (the third longest Wimbledon telecast ever, behind only an ESPN2 telecast in 2010 and Day One this year) – earned a 0.9 U.S. rating, the best for the “middle Saturday” since 2007 (1.0). 
  •  Through Saturday, June 30, 19.2 million people had watched Wimbledon on ESPN or ESPN2, an increase of 32 percent compared to the same point a year ago (14.5 million).
  • On Wednesday, July 4, the value of the ESPN / ESPN2 “Cross Court Coverage” was on display as both networks aired live matches, with ESPN2 airing nine hours and ESPN on the air for seven of those hours.  The ESPN/ESPN2 combined rating was 1.0, up 43 percent from 0.7 for ESPN2/NBC last year.  The audience was up 51 percent, to 1,354,000 viewers from 895,000.  The key male demographic groups all more than doubled:  Men 18-34 up 134 percent, Men 18-49 up 123 percent, and Men 25-54 up 122 percent.

Digital Usage Nearly Doubled

  • Through July 4, ESPN3/WatchESPN has registered 72.1 million live minutes of viewing across all platforms, up 86 percent compared to the same point in 2011. 

The Championships Conclude with History Beckoning

ESPN’s exclusive presentation of Wimbledon will culminate with a live national telecast of the Ladies’ Championship on Saturday, July 7, and the Gentlemen’s Championship on Sunday, July 8, both at 9 a.m. ET.  Both will be preceded at 8 a.m. by the one-hour Breakfast at Wimbledon, hosted by Hannah Storm.  ABC will reair the finals on the day they take place at 3 p.m. 

All the action on ESPN is also available through WatchESPN online at and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app.  ESPN3 and ESPN 3D will televise both Championships live.  In addition, ESPN3 will stream all matches on Centre Court (starting at 9 a.m.) and No. 1 Court (starting at 8 a.m.), including the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Doubles Championships live and in their entirety following the Ladies’ Championship. 

Both matches will offer potential historic outcomes:

  • In the Ladies Championship, either a tennis legend will further elevate her legacy, or an emerging star will win her first Major and will become the top-ranked woman in the world.  Serena Williams, the No. 6 seed, will be vying for her 14th Major title and fifth at Wimbledon, but her first since Wimbledon two years ago.  Since then, a series of health issues derailed her career.  On the other side of the net, No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska is playing in her first Major final but will be the top-ranked player in the world with a win.  She is the first Pole to play for the Wimbledon Championship since Jadwiga Jedrzejowska in 1937.
  • In the Gentlemen’s Championship, either Roger Federer will gain his record-tying seventh crown at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, or a kingdom will celebrate the end of a 76-year drought.  Andy Murray of Scotland carries the athletic hopes and dreams of Great Britain on his shoulders in his quest to be the first man from Great Britain to win the local tennis Major since Fred Perry in 1936.  It has been almost as long since a British man has played in the final – Bunny Austin in 1938. 

ESPN and Wimbledon

The new schedule for ESPN’s 10th Wimbledon – exclusive and all-live – is the result of a 12-year agreement between ESPN and the All England Lawn Tennis Club announced just after the conclusion of the 2011 Championships.  The remaining schedule:

Date Time (ET) Event Network  
Sat, July 7 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN / ESPN3 Live
  9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Ladies’ Championship

No. 3 Radwanska vs. No. 6 Williams

  3 – 6 p.m. Ladies’ Championship ABC Tape
Sun, July 8 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN / ESPN3 Live
  9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Gentlemen’s Championship

No. 3 Federer vs. No. 4 Murray

  3 – 6 p.m. Gentlemen’s Championship ABC Tape

ESPN – All Four Slams, All In One Place

Tennis has been part of ESPN since its first week on the air and provided many memorable moments, but it has never been as important as today, with the US Open joining the lineup in 2009, giving ESPN all four Grand Slam events, something no other U.S. network has ever done, let alone in one year. ESPN has presented the Australian Open since 1984, the French Open since 2002 (plus 1986 – 1993), and Wimbledon since 2003, with exclusivity for live television with all other rights extended in a 12-year agreement starting in 2012.

ESPN debuted September 7, 1979, and the first tennis telecast was exactly one week later, September 14, a Davis Cup tie, Argentina at U.S. from Memphis with Cliff Drysdale on the call and John McEnroe playing.

In addition, broadband network ESPN3, now in nearly 72 million homes, carries thousands of hours of tennis annually, including all four Grand Slam events, plus ATP 1000 and 500 tournaments and WTA Premier Events, and season-ending championships for both tours.  Also, ESPN Classic shows great matches from the past and the sport receives extensive coverage on SportsCenter, ESPNEWS, Spanish-language ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio, and ESPN The Magazine.  ESPN 3D aired its first tennis at Wimbledon in 2011. 


Dave Nagle

As I write this on 11-11-21, it's now 35 years for me at ESPN, the only real job I’ve ever had. I joined merely to help with the upcoming America’s Cup in Australia. I was told it would be for three months at all of $5.50 per hour. I like to say I simply kept showing up. I’ve worked on almost every sport, plus answered viewer calls and letters (people used to write!), given tours, written the company newsletter and once drove NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon to the local airport. My travels have been varied…I’ve been to Martinsville, Darlington, Indy and Super Bowls; the America’s Cup (all 3) in San Diego and College GameDay in the sport’s meccas such as Eugene, Auburn, Lubbock, Stillwater and more; the NBA Finals, Wimbledon (16 times and counting) and the “other Bristol,” the one with a race track in Tennessee. These days, my main areas are tennis, UFC, boxing, network-wide ratings (by month/quarter/year), and corporate communications documents, including fact sheets, chronologies, lists and nearly 35 of the Year in Review press releases. UPDATE EXACTLY ONE YEAR LATER: Today, November 11, 2022, I am retiring from ESPN -- 36 years to the day I began. As I ride off into the sunset – top down and E Street Radio blaring – I do so with so many wonderful memories, proud of my contributions and a heart full of gratitude for the opportunity. 
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