Wimbledon: BBC Launches Most Comprehensive Digital Coverage Ever

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Britain's Andy Murray won the Wimbledon trophy last year.

The U.K. public broadcaster touts "a huge summer of sport" as the London tennis tournament joins the World Cup as a ratings magnet on the TV schedule.

LONDON — The BBC on Monday launched its coverage of the Wimbledon tennis tournament here, which it says will include its most comprehensive digital coverage ever.

"Over the next fortnight, the BBC will have unrivaled coverage as the world's top players battle it out for the honor of adding their names to Wimbledon's prestigious roll of honor," the U.K. public broadcaster said Monday.

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The BBC says it will offer 150 hours of live TV coverage, which will include up to 12 live streams accessible across digital devices, up from 10 last year. First matches at 11:30 a.m. local time Monday were being streamed live from the outer courts.

With the World Cup having drawn millions of viewers to every game on the BBC and ITV, Wimbledon is expected to add to the strong sports ratings in Britain, particularly given that Scottish star player Andy Murray is the defending champion. Justin Barritt, executive product manager for BBC Sport on connected TVs, in a recent blog post touted this summer as "a huge summer of sport."

The BBC's team of commentators and analysts includes retired women's champion Marion Bartoli, injured British number one Laura Robson, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin, Pat Cash, Lindsay Davenport and others.

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The big interest in Murray and Wimbledon saw numerous fans sleep outside the venue Sunday night in the hope of getting last-minute tickets on opening day Monday, British media reported. Wimbledon organizers Monday morning on Twitter urged other fans not to line up in vain.

"People in #thequeue for on the day sales will have to wait many hours. We advise those intending to queue not to travel to #Wimbledon," the Twitter feed said. Murray on Monday plays Belgium's David Goffin in the first round.

The BBC last year drew the biggest British TV audience for any Wimbledon final in more than 20 years. Overall, the match, in which Murray defeated Novak Djokovic, came in with the second-highest peak rating ever for Wimbledon coverage on the BBC, with 17.29 million people. The average audience amounted to 12.1 million.

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That compared to the biggest-ever Wimbledon TV audience of 17.3 million in the U.K. in 1980, when Swedish star Bjorn Borg beat McEnroe in a five-set thriller.

Meanwhile, the World Cup has also drawn strong U.K. ratings since its June 12 start. England's 2-0 defeat to Uruguay on Thursday night on ITV scored the best TV ratings in the U.K. since the 2012 London Olympics, peaking with 20.29 million viewers. The average audience amounted to 13.3 million.

Although England is out of the World Cup, the final groups are battling it out. Industry observers will be interested to see how Wimbledon ratings will compare to World Cup numbers this week.

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai


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