USA Today gets into sports-event ticket business


I think fans everywhere agree that there are a huge number of sporting events that they would be interested in attending, at least once in their life, but finding out how to apply for tickets much less working your way through the red tape will always be an impediment.

Now leaping to the (possible) rescue is USA Today Sports Media Group which has teamed with QuintEvents to launch a joint venture called USA Today Sports Events that promises access to the biggest sports events.

The effort seeks to establish USA Today Sports as the go-to site for fans looking for tickets and packages to events such as the NFL’s Pro Bowl and Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby and the NBA All-Star game, among others.

It does not just offer tickets but much more in some cases such as access to players and coaches, the ability to walk a field or arena prior to an event, hospitality tent and parties access, and other amenities. The packages it offers are not third-party ones that cobble together hotels, seats and transportation but ones from the official sponsors of the events.

A look at the website shows it is offering tickets for the upcoming Super Bowl next year, with a clock counting down the days, hours and minutes. It has a link to different ticket packages, then a second to extras that can be added to your package, then a seating chart and so on. Currently tickets max out at $11,799 each.

The Level White Package starts with seats at $5,899 and has seats in the corner of level 100 at MetLife Stadium. The amenities include a $100 In-Stadium Super Bowl XLVIII merchandise coupon, preferred on-location parking (for an addition fee for the actual parking) and access to the NFL On-Location venue.

It does seem that all but well-heeled fans are increasingly phased out of the modern sports picture and while I like the idea of this and if I had the cash might actually try and use the service but increasingly fans of teams are the last that get served by the leagues when the biggest events come around, forcing them to try all sorts of maneuvers to get tickets. Maybe USA Today can also start a business finding bargain seats for real fans who aren’t loaded with cash?

All Wimbledon All the Time Pays off for ESPN: Digital Viewership Soars

ESPN’s decision to make available all of the recent Wimbledon’s matches has paid off with record viewership both for broadcast and online as the company cashed in on its bet to broadcast the entire tournament.

The digital demand saw a massive increase, just as ESPN’s broadcast of the recent Euro 2012 Tournament, showing the strong growth in interest in watching sports via more than just traditional broadcast medium.

Viewership for the Ladies’ Championship was up 5% from the previous year while for the Gentlemen’s it was up 39% over 2011’s match, and there were many additional highlights over the course of the two week tournament.

ESPN reports that its overall audience grew, that it grew younger (a good sign for the sport) and that overall it had five of the top ten most viewed Wimbledon matches that it has broadcast in a decade this year.
The overall ratings matched last year’s shared broadcast, when the tournament broadcast was shared with NBC and shown on ESPN2. For this year as the sole broadcaster ESPN’s ratings were up an average 40%.

The Gentlemen’s Championship lead the way with Roger Federer’s four match victory over Andy Murray bringing in ESPN’s all time highest rated match with a 2.9 coverage rating.

ESPN reported that across all of its digital platforms demand was nearly triple compared to last year. ESPN3/WatchESPN registered 126 million live minutes of viewing across all platforms, up 182 percent from 2011 lead by the Federer vs. Murray match which drew in 23.6 million live minutes watched, significantly better than the second best numbers ported on Friday, July 7 of 16.2 million.

ESPN to Broadcast All Wimbledon Matches

Wimbledon is here, the one grass court championship in the Grand Slam pantheon. One of the most watched, if not the top tennis tournament of the circuit is about to begin, with qualifying for unseeded players occurring last week. The tournament will run from June 25 to July 8 this year.

There will be much to watch for during the two week tournament. Will Roger Federer win a record tying 7th Men’s Singles title? Will the Williams sisters return to form and dominate? Will the torrential rainstorms that flooded much of northern England move south rather than east?

The event is held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and the seedings are in, with a few surprises. On the Men’s side Novak Djokovic has the top spot followed by Rafel Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray. Between the top two they have won the last none major tournaments and Federer has been strong at Wimbledon, although has slipped in the last few years. Between the three of them they have owned the top tournaments over the last seven years. I think it would be nice to see a great upset and a new rising star in the sport, but not sure of that will happen.

On the women’s side Maria Sharapova, fresh off her French Open victory, has top honors, followed by Victoria Azarenka, Agnieszka Radwanska, and Petra Kvitova is fourth. Serena Williams, a four time winner on grass, is the sixth seed while her sister Venus, still dealing with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue and joint pain was unseeded.


If you are looking for the match on the television tune into ESPN, which will be broadcasting 140 hours of play across a number of its properties including nine screens on ESPN3 so that you can view any match you wish and all of the action will also be on WatchESPN and via a mobile app as well.

The two main channels, ESPN and ESPN2 will have three days where they are both showing matches simultaneously so that a viewer can hop back and forth to view the ones that they are most interested in.

The network will be showing four historic Men’s finals on ESPN Classic, each shown on the anniversary of the match. In addition users of ESPN on Demand can watch highlights as well as historic matches.

Last year ESPN signed a 12 year deal to broadcast Wimbledon and the network will be expanding its US Open announcer John McEnroe to host a preview show called Breakfast at Wimbledon. With all of the coverage the network has a large staff covering the event including Darren Cahill, Cliff Drysdale, Mary Joe Fernandez, Brad Gilbert, Patrick McEnroe and Pam Shriver. Chris Fowler will call matches and serve as studio host, sharing that role with Hannah Storm and Mike Tirico.

Mon, June 25 6:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2 / ESPN3
Tue, June 26 – Thur, June 28 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2 /ESPN3
Fri, June 29 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN / ESPN3
Sat, June 30 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN / ESPN3
Mon, July 2 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Round of 16 ESPN2 / ESPN3 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Round of 16, Centre Court ESPN / ESPN3
Tue, July 3 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. Ladies’ Quarterfinals ESPN2 / ESPN3 Live 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Ladies’ Quarterfinals, Centre Court ESPN / ESPN3
Wed, July 4 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. Gentlemen’s Quarterfinals ESPN2 / ESPN3 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Gentlemen’s Quarterfinals, Centre Court ESPN / ESPN3D / ESPN3
Thur, July 5 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Ladies’ Semifinals ESPN / ESPN3D / ESPN3
Fri, July 6 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Gentlemen’s Semifinals ESPN / ESPN3D / ESPN3
Sat, July 7 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Ladies’ Final ESPN / ESPN3D / ESPN3
Sun, July 8 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Gentlemen’s Final ESPN / ESPN3D / ESPN3

If you want to follow the matches via Twitter, or an individual player or announcer a good place to check out would be TennisTweets which has an exhaustive list of players that you can follow as well as a running board with the latest from a variety of sources.

The official Wimbledon web site is a very clean and easy to use web site. Want to watch video or listen to the games live on the radio-it is there. Get an app for your smartphone or view the history of the event. All there. Interviews, weather forecasts, as well as what you would expect with all of the draws, schedules and results.

If you happen to be wondering about grass courts, according to Wikipedia they tend to be slippery, with the ball, while remaining fast, staying low. The majority of the grass courts worldwide are located in England and they need to be reseeded annually, and so have a higher cost of maintenance.

This year you may very well see a great deal more play on grass than in previous years because the Summer Olympics, held in under two months in London, will see its tennis matches played at the All-England Club as well.