The US Tennis Association and ESPN have agreed an 11-year broadcast deal – reported to be worth $770 million – for ESPN to be the exclusive home in North and South America of the US Open from first ball through the women’s and men’s championships each summer from New York beginning in 2015. ESPN now will air the championship in three of the four tennis majors.
Dave Haggerty, USTA chairman of the board and president, said, “This wide-ranging and broad relationship with ESPN positions tennis at the forefront of American sports. By teaming with the world-wide leader in sports, the USTA will continue to ensure that tennis at every level thrives in the United States.”
In addition to ESPN and ESPN2, all telecasts will be available via online service WatchESPN. In an expansion of offerings, over the term of the agreement ESPN will make every match on all 17 tournament courts available on ESPN3. Presently, six of the 17 courts have coverage. Also, online platform ESPN3 will begin each day’s coverage the first Monday – Friday morning with two hours at 11 a.m. ET, while SportsCenter on ESPN will have the right to do live cut-ins. ESPN3 is available via WatchESPN for fans who receive ESPN’s linear networks as part of their video subscription via Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Verizon FiOS TV, Comcast Xfinity TV, Midcontinent Communications, Cablevision, Cox, Charter or AT&T U-verse.
The tournament finals, and weekend play, had been carried by CBS since 1968. ESPN began televising 100 hours of early-round and some second-week matches.
“Certain sporting events become synonymous with when they are held, and there is no better – or bigger – way to celebrate the end of summer than at the US Open in New York,” said ESPN president John Skipper.
Included in ESPN’s new rights are the middle weekend of play, including Labor Day, plus the men’s and women’s semifinals and finals. Starting in 2015, the women’s semifinals will be played on a Thursday in primetime, with the men’s semifinals taking place on Friday. The women’s finals will be on Saturday and the men’s finals on Sunday.
ESPN will now have complete rights to the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. ESPN also televises parts of the French Open, along with Tennis Channel and NBC.