In what is a big announcement for Channel 7, they’ve released today that they will be broadcasting Wimbledon for 2011 and the next few years to come. No more junkets for Ken Sutcliffe, yet still the same late night, bleary-eyed game watching to see the Aussies out by the second round. The more interesting step is the Network looking to ensure they can start the games live on one of their digital multi-channels and then revert to the main channel (presumably after prime time programming has ceased). If Senator Stephen Conroy’s office allows this… it’s a sign that the Australian Government is finally letting the networks take multi-channeling seriously. From the press release:

The Seven Network today signed an agreement with The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for extensive free-to-air broadcast television coverage of The Championships.

The multiple year broadcast television agreement for coverage of Wimbledon complements the network’s coverage of The Australian Open tennis and adds further depth to Seven’s leadership in sports television.
The agreement between Seven and The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club was announced today by Seven’s Head of Sport, Saul Shtein.

Mick Desmond, Commercial Director of The All England Club, said: “We are delighted to be announcing this partnership with Seven. This agreement allows sports fans across Australia to enjoy Seven’s creative approach to bringing alive the stories and the colour of The Championships, while the development of multi-media and wireless platforms will provide viewers with an improved choice of how to access all the on and off court action and drama.”

Commenting, Mr Shtein, said: “Wimbledon is one of the world’s great sports events and Seven looks forward to being the network that delivers Australians the broadest possible coverage of The Championships on broadcast television.”

Seven will have first selection on the ‘best two matches’ of each day’s play through to and including the quarter-finals and will have exclusive coverage of the singles semi-finals and finals and doubles finals in the Ladies’ and Men’s Championships.

Seven is planning extensive coverage of the Championships across its digital broadcast television platform in primetime, which will include live telecasts from the start of play on one of its multi-channels. Seven is currently in discussions with the Office of the Minister for Communications on these plans.

This year’s Championship commences on 20 June.