@ESPNTennis & US Open: Most-Viewed in Four Years; WatchESPN Viewership up 4X+


@ESPNTennis & US Open: Most-Viewed in Four Years; WatchESPN Viewership up 4X+

·         Most Viewed US Open among Men 18-34 since 2009
·         Men’s Championship Audience up 43%; Rating among Men 18-34, 18-49 More than Tripled, Best since ‘09
·         WatchESPN Viewership More Than Quadruples – up 377 Percent – to Tennis Record

ESPN’s first exclusive US Open resulted in the tournament’s biggest TV audience in four years – capped by a Men’s Championship seen by 43 percent more people than last year and more young males than in six years – plus an explosion of live streaming on WatchESPN across computers, smartphones, tablets and connected TV devices.

The average audience across two weeks on ESPN and ESPN2 was 1,265,000 viewers (P2+), up 20 percent compared to 1,054,000 a year ago with a combination of cable and broadcast telecasts, according to Nielsen. It was the most-viewed US Open since 2011 (1,443,000).

In addition, more men 18-34 watched the US Open than any in six years, an average of 101,000 – 68 percent higher than 2014 (60,000) and the highest since 121,000 in 2009.

WatchESPN enjoyed its best tennis tournament ever and more than quadrupled its total of live minutes viewed for the US Open with 364,700,000, compared to 76,500,000 in 2014, an increase of 377 percent (the linear TV presentation plus ESPN3’s offering of up to 11 courts and other content).

Four times during the tournament WatchESPN set new daily records for tennis, capped by the Sunday of the Men’s Championship with an average minute audience of 78,000 from the day’s total of 672,000 live unique devices that watched more than 54,100,000 live minutes. (The previous records were set this summer Wimbledon for total minutes and at Wimbledon in 2014 for unique devices.)

“The US Open was seen by more people this year than recent years, with significant growth among the key young male target audience – and with the benefits of added mobility and choice from WatchESPN,” said John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president, programming and production.  “We are thrilled our successful model at the Australian Open and Wimbledon bore such results, and we look forward to 10 more years working with the USTA to capture all the drama and excitement of this terrific event with passion and innovation.”

The telecast windows aired by ESPN/ESPN2 in both 2014 and ’15 enjoyed an increase in viewers of 58 percent, averaging 1,196,000 viewers compared to 757,000 in 2014.

Men’s and Women’s Championships

The Men’s Championship on Sunday – Novak Djokovic out-dueling Roger Federer 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 for his 10th Major title – was seen by an average of 3,153,000 viewers (P2+), up 43 percent from a year ago (2,199,000). The telecast earned a 1.8 rating, up 13 percent from 1.6. Quite significantly, the match’s rating among young men – M18-34 and M18-49 – was more than triple 2014 and the highest for each since 2009.

Additionally, the Men’s Championship was the most viewed tennis match ever on WatchESPN, logging an average minute audience of 156,000 from a total of 481,000 live unique viewers and 37.4 million live minutes viewed.

The Women’s Championship on Saturday – a surprising matchup of veteran Italians, a straight sets victory by 33-year old Flavia Pennetta over 32-year old Roberta Vinci who a day earlier had shocked top seed Serena Williams in her march to a calendar year Grand Slam – produced an average audience of 1,601,000. The rating was 1.1.

Fans Follow Serena’s Quest for Glory, Grand Slam; QF vs. Venus ESPN’s Second Best Tennis Telecast

Much of the US Open storyline centered around Serena Williams’ quest for a Grand Slam – winning the sport’s four Majors in one calendar year. Her quarterfinal match – the much-anticipated 27th meeting between her No. 23 seed Venus Williams – earned a 4.8 rating.  That evening’s entire 5:15 telecast (including a second match, Novak Djokovic over Feliciano Lopez) scored a 2.1 US HH rating, the second best for tennis in ESPN history (any ESPN network).  The only higher rating for tennis was the 2012 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Championship – Roger Federer over Andy Murray – with a 2.5.



Dave Nagle

As I write this on 11-11-21, it's now 35 years for me at ESPN, the only real job I’ve ever had. I joined merely to help with the upcoming America’s Cup in Australia. I was told it would be for three months at all of $5.50 per hour. I like to say I simply kept showing up. I’ve worked on almost every sport, plus answered viewer calls and letters (people used to write!), given tours, written the company newsletter and once drove NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon to the local airport. My travels have been varied…I’ve been to Martinsville, Darlington, Indy and Super Bowls; the America’s Cup (all 3) in San Diego and College GameDay in the sport’s meccas such as Eugene, Auburn, Lubbock, Stillwater and more; the NBA Finals, Wimbledon (16 times and counting) and the “other Bristol,” the one with a race track in Tennessee. These days, my main areas are tennis, UFC, boxing, network-wide ratings (by month/quarter/year), and corporate communications documents, including fact sheets, chronologies, lists and nearly 35 of the Year in Review press releases. UPDATE EXACTLY ONE YEAR LATER: Today, November 11, 2022, I am retiring from ESPN -- 36 years to the day I began. As I ride off into the sunset – top down and E Street Radio blaring – I do so with so many wonderful memories, proud of my contributions and a heart full of gratitude for the opportunity. 
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