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Why wasn't Sharapova on live?

Maria Sharapova of Russia returns a shot during

Maria Sharapova of Russia returns a shot during her semifinal victory over Sabine Lisicki of Germany at Wimbledon. (June 30, 2011) (Credit: Getty)

NBC has promised to start showing all Olympic events live on one platform or another, but alas, that policy has not yet trickled its way down to tennis.

So it was that Maria Sharapova's semifinal at Wimbledon this morning was not shown live in the United States, causing many people to complain and me to write a blog post on my day off.

What happened? Firstly, none of it is ESPN's fault. The network showed the first women's semifinal live, as per its contract, and that was that.

So why did NBC not pick up live coverage for the second semi? Because its contract with Wimbledon calls for its broadcast window to begin at noon Eastern Time - which also is when its online streaming rights begin.

Why would NBC agree to a deal that does not allow for live coverage before noon Eastern Time? Primarily because it does whatever it must to protect the first two hours of the highly rated, extremely profitable "Today" show, including the first two hours of the show in the Pacific Time zone, which conclude at noon Eastern Time.

Got all that? There are only two ways out of this regularly occurring mess:

1. Stop worrying about "Today," swallow the short-term ratings hit and show the darn tennis tournament live.

2. Let ESPN2 show both semifinals live.

Tape delaying Wimbledon matches has been going on for decades. But every year that goes by in our Internet Age, fans/viewers become less tolerant of any sports event not being available live - on TV or at the least on the Internet.

Sigh.

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