This is the week every year where this blog gets inundated with people furious with how ESPN2 and NBC show Wimbledon week 2 matches — some on tape, some live, and some stuff that won’t get shown until 9 hours after its happened. USATODAY.com’s Michael Hiestand took a look at the whole decision making process and its results:
First the basics. All ESPN2 Wimbledon daytime match coverage this week will be live. (ESPN2 also has taped prime-time coverage.) The variables include whether there will be matches in progress during ESPN2’s hours — and whether ESPN2 will be able to cover certain matches.
On Monday’s Round of 16 action, the women’s quarterfinals Tuesday and men’s quarterfinals Wednesday, ESPN2 starts with coverage running from 7 a.m. ET to 10 a.m. ET. On those days, it will also have coverage starting at 1 p.m. ET that will run until at least 5 p.m. ET.
NBC, on Monday through Wednesday, will cover Wimbledon between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. in all time zones. Meaning, it will let its Today show keep its regular schedule everywhere. That might infuriate tennis fanatics. But it’s understandable for a network to protect its highly rated morning show rather than let viewers wander off and perhaps never return.
So who will show what and when? Monday through Wednesday, NBC will pick the match it wants to show. At Wimbledon, play begins on all courts by 8 a.m. ET. But whenever NBC’s selected match is played in real time, you’ll see it at 10 a.m. in your local time zone. (And, again, count on not missing a minute of Today.)
Now, things get more complicated. No matter when NBC’s match on those days is played in real time — and it could be over before NBC comes on-air — you won’t see highlights or scores from those matches on ESPN2 until at least 1 p.m. ET. And in the Pacific time zone only, you won’t see the ESPN2 coverage that begins at 1 p.m. ET — because it would directly overlap with NBC’s coverage.
Moving onto Thursday’s women’s semifinals and Friday’s men’s semifinals, NBC’s coverage will shift to noon to 5 p.m. — again, in all time zones. Meanwhile on Thursday and Friday, ESPN2’s coverage will remain at 7 a.m. ET.
Each day, NBC will choose the semifinal it wants. If it’s the day’s second semifinal, ESPN2 can go ahead and air the first one live. But if NBC picks the first semi, ESPN2’s morning coverage will consist of filler like chat and highlights — and won’t be allowed mention what’s happening in NBC’s match until NBC finishes airing it in all time zones. Which could happen well after the match is over.
If NBC picks the first semifinal, leaving ESPN2 with the second one, ESPN2 could still air that second match live — as long as it starts well before noon ET, when NBC’s coverage begins. Meaning that ESPN2’s live coverage of the second semi could overlap a bit with NBC’s taped coverage of the first one. But, if ESPN2 is carrying a second semifinal and it begins too late to be carried live during NBC’s taped coverage, viewers might see that ESPN2 semi at 8 p.m. ET — possibly nine hours after it started.
So there you have it.