The USTA has entered into a comprehensive media partnership with ESPN for the television and digital presentation of the US Open and the Emirates Airline US Open Series. The 11-year agreement will begin in 2015 and extend through the 2025 US Open and provide professional tennis with more than 200 hours of live coverage each summer. Current domestic television agreements for the US Open conclude following the 2014 US Open.
ESPN will become the exclusive domestic television and digital media partner for the US Open and the Emirates Airline US Open Series, and will have the right to sub-license coverage with agreement from the USTA. In addition, ESPN will continue to televise the US Open in Latin America and Canada. The comprehensive deal includes rights for all ESPN platforms including cable television, digital distribution and live-streaming of US Open matches.
The deal with ESPN puts the tournament entirely on cable, ending the 47-year partnership the Open has had with CBS. ESPN will pay about $70 million a year to broadcast the US Open and Open Series events.
“This wide-ranging and broad relationship with ESPN positions tennis at the forefront of American sports,” said Dave Haggerty, Chairman of the Board and President of the USTA. “By teaming with the worldwide leader in sports, the USTA will continue to ensure that tennis at every level thrives in the United States.”
“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. “We look forward to capturing every match, every star, every championship and all the drama on this grand stage.”
ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to air more than 130 live hours of US Open match play. Beginning in 2015, the men’s singles final will return to its traditional Sunday afternoon timeslot and the women’s singles final will be scheduled for Saturday afternoon—both finals will air on ESPN. The men’s singles semifinals will take place on Friday afternoon, with the women’s singles semifinals scheduled for primetime on the second Thursday night of the tournament. This schedule reaffirms the USTA’s commitment to providing a day of rest for singles competitors between the singles semifinals and singles finals.
“One of the most important aspects of the new broadcast agreement is the increased coverage of the US Open across multiple platforms, delivering tennis to more fans in the formats that today’s consumers demand,” said Gordon Smith, USTA Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer.
In an expansion of its US Open coverage, over the term of the agreement, ESPN will make every match on each US Open competition court available via television and/or live streaming. During the first week of the tournament, US Open first-ball to last-ball coverage will appear on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3, with ESPN2 continuing its nightly tradition of Primetime at the Open. Over Labor Day Weekend, ESPN2 will provide wall-to-wall live coverage from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET daily. During the second week of the tournament, comprehensive coverage will appear across ESPN and ESPN2. Starting on Thursday of the second week, the women’s singles semifinals will be televised on ESPN2 in prime time, with all remaining singles coverage of Finals Weekend taking place on ESPN.
ESPN will televise its flagship SportsCenter show live from the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open, on several occasions over the two-week tournament. Also, ESPN will now present Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, the music and tennis festival geared to families that serves as the unofficial kick-off of the two-week tournament, on the weekend prior to the main draw tournament’s Monday start.
Additionally, ESPN has been a key partner of the Emirates Airline US Open Series since its inception in 2004. As part of the new agreement, ESPN’s coverage of the five-week summer tennis season leading into the US Open will include live telecasts of back-to-back singles finals from all Series tournament each weekend on ESPN2.