ESPN Snatches the Rights to the US Open Starting in 2015

ESPN has made another sporting event into an all-cable affair. Starting in 2015, the U.S. Open which has been on ESPN2 since 2009 will now be seen on the Alleged Worldwide Leader from start to finish. CBS which has been the home of the Open since 1968 will end its association with the event in 2014.

ESPN’s coverage will now include Labor Day Weekend which had been part of CBS’ coverage. The women’s semifinals which had been on the second Friday afternoon of the U.S. Open will now move to the second Thursday night and the men’s semifinals from Super Saturday to Friday. The women’s final will remain on the second Saturday and the men’s final on the second Sunday. This gives a day of rest for both the women’s and men’s finals.

Having the U.S. Open, ESPN now has three of the four tennis Grand Slam finals on its air along with the Australian Open and Wimbledon. The French Open is the only Grand Slam tournament in which ESPN is not a main rightsholder as Tennis Channel and NBC are.

In addition, ESPN will make available all matches on all 17 courts on ESPN3.

Here’s the ESPN/USTA press release.

us-open-tennis-logoESPN Acquires Exclusive Rights to Tennis’ US Open Beginning in 2015

Adds Labor Day Weekend, the New Semis/Finals Format, plus Expanded Digital, International Rights in 11-Year Deal

ESPN will 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, in a landmark agreement with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced today.  With this 11-year agreement, ESPN now will air the championship in three of the four tennis majors.

ESPN has televised approximately100 hours of live US Open matches annually since 2009, and now will air 130+  hours with the addition of day-long coverage of the “middle weekend” – Saturday, Sunday and Labor Day Monday – plus both the men’s and women’s semifinals and finals.  The new US Open schedule – previously announced to start in 2015 – places the women’s final on Saturday and the men’s on Sunday.  This creates new prime-time telecasts of the women’s semifinals on the second Thursday and the men’s semifinals the following day, giving a day of rest to the two players before each final.

“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 John Skipper, ESPN president.  “We look forward to capturing every match, every star, every championship and all the drama on this grand stage.”

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 on 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, 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.

ESPN will continue to be the home of the entire US Open in Latin America and the Caribbean and in Canada on TSN, as it has since 2002.  The new agreement brings expanded rights and increased programming hours, as in the U.S. – both on the multiple linear TV channels throughout these regions and on digital platforms.

ESPN also will become the exclusive home to the US Open Series with 72 hours of action in the five-week summer series leading to the US Open.  In addition, 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.

There you have it.

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013. He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television. Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.