Australian Open Men’s Championship: Most-Watched in 13 Years


Australian Open Men’s Championship: Most-Watched in 13 Years

  • Streaming Audience on WatchESPN up 140% over 2016, Live TV Audience Double Last Year
  • Women’s Championship Audience up 37%, Also Best Since 2009 Time Slot Change
  • Entire Australian Open – 1,400 Hours from WatchESPN – Available on Demand for a Month

ESPN’s audience for both the Women’s and Men’s Championships at the Australian Open – where all-time legends were on both sides of the net – was the largest since each event moved to a 3 a.m. ET time slot from prime time (2005 for the men, 2009 for the women).

Men’s Championship Audience Double Last Year

The 18th Major Championship in Roger Federer’s career, Sunday at the Australian Open, garnered the largest total audience for the event – an average of 1,133,000 viewers – since 2004, a year before the move to an overnight (3 a.m. ET) time slot in 2005.  The audience was more than double the average for last year (up 107% from 547,000), Novak Djokovic defeating Andy Murray.

ESPN’s TV audience for the 35th meeting between Federer and Rafael Nadal – whom many consider the two finest men’s players of the Open Era – of 1,085,000 (based on a 0.7 rating) was also the most since the match aired in prime time on Saturday nights, and more than double the 2016 audience.  The audience on WatchESPN was up 140% — 48,000 vs. 20,000.

Women’s Championship Audience up 37%, Best Since Move to Overnight in 2009

The historic matchup of the Williams Sisters in the early hours of Saturday — Serena Williams defeating her sister Venus for an Open Era record 23rd Major title – drew a total audience of 953,000 viewers, up 37% from last year’s match between Serena and Angelique Kerber.  It was the largest audience for the event since it moved to an overnight time slot in 2009.  The TV audience of 926,000 (based on a 0.6 rating) was 36% larger than the 2016 audience.  The audience on WatchESPN was up 59% — 27,000 vs. 17,000.

Entire Tournament Available on Demand

The “retro” championship matchups – each living up to their billing – concluded what has been called “the greatest tennis Grand Slam event in history.”  Both matches – in fact, the entire tournament – are available on demand on WatchESPN.  Over the course of two weeks, ESPN aired more than 100 hours of live television with 1,400 more on WatchESPN covering every match – men’s women’s, doubles, juniors and wheelchair – and each match is available for 30 days after its conclusion.

ESPN and Tennis

Tennis has been part of ESPN since its first week on the air, providing numerous memorable moments from around the world, but it has never been as important as today, with the unprecedented position of presenting three of the sports Major events from start to finish (Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open, with exclusivity at the latter two).



Dave Nagle

It was 33 years at ESPN for me as of November 2019 (the only job I’ve ever had) after joining merely to help with the America’s Cup for three months at a robust $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 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 and Indy 500; Wimbledon (16 times and counting) and the “other Bristol,” the one with a race track in Tennessee. These days, in addition to overseeing the Fan Relations, Archives and, my main areas are tennis, ratings, and corporate communications documents, including ESPN’s history and growth.
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