For viewers of Wimbledon who are tired of having to watch the dedicated coverage that their selected broadcaster offers for the tournament, YouTube looks set to provide the ever-reputable alternative, after a deal alongside one of the tournament’s leading sponsors means that live matches will be streamed through the event’s official channel for the first time since the online station launched in 2006.
This arrangement will see live matches, highlights, ‘behind-the-scenes content’, interviews and press conferences featured during the two-week tournament starting today (24 June), with the live stream (sponsored by the Swiss watch makers) set to lead the way through a YouTube Live service.
That stream is noted as being available wherever YouTube Live is an option, but with a number of rights-enforced limitations, leaving the coverage accessible to the USA, Canada, Belgium, Cyprus, Holland, New Zealand, all of South America (excluding Brazil), and the UK.
Highlights, meanwhile, will be a more global option, excluding the UK along with the USA, South America, Austria, Germany, and Italy, though there will be no restrictions whatsoever on the additional content that does not involve match coverage.
The official YouTube blog summarises the deal, reading: “This year Wimbledon’s YouTube channel will have exclusive access throughout The Championships on Live @ Wimbledon. Catch the key moments of the tennis, interviews, behind the scenes and press conferences throughout the Wimbledon fortnight. You can also relive all the glory days of Wimbledon’s golden moments, such as one of the greatest matches ever played, the 2008 Wimbledon Men’s Singles Final: Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer.”
While the commitment to current and archived content is an impressive one that in some aspects cannot be matched by the BBC’s long-standing alternative, will YouTube be lacking in the experience and recognition needed to topple the iPlayer as the tournament’s leading online coverage provider in its home region?