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July 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

In another milestone marking the ascension of cable as a rival to broadcast TV, it was announced Tuesday that ESPN had grabbed television rights to the Wimbledon international tennis tournament, an event covered by NBC for more than 40 years. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the 12-year contract was estimated by some analysts to be worth well over $400 million. Previously ESPN had only had rights to air the early matches, while NBC aired the semifinals and finals. But today’s (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times suggested that money alone may not have been the deciding factor and that the tournament’s promoters, the All England Lawn Tennis Club, may have been won over by ESPN’s willingness to air the matches live. (NBC has tape-delayed them.) “We want to see as many games live and on TV as can be managed,” Ian Ritchie, the club’s chief executive, told the Times. “I’m sure tape delay has its place, but certainly in my mind live is preeminent.”