ESPN & US Open Tennis: Most Hours Ever Leads to 8% Rise in Total Live Audience


ESPN & US Open Tennis: Most Hours Ever Leads to 8% Rise in Total Live Audience

  • Streaming Stats Set New US Open Record
  • Women’s Semifinals, Final the Most-Viewed Ever for ESPN

ESPN’s two weeks of exclusive live “first ball to last ball” coverage of the US Open in New York from August 28 to September 10 averaged a total live audience of 968,000 viewers, up 8% over 2016.  The TV audience also was up 8%, to an average of 948,000 viewers across ESPN and ESPN2 for the 150 hours of coverage from the Billie Jean National Tennis Center.  Not only is the 150 hours ESPN’s most ever, it is 13% more than the 130 scheduled, thanks to late-night action.

Starting with a big first night – the return of Maria Sharapova to a Major tournament after 18 months and her electric three-set win over No. 2 seed Simona Halep – the event was on a roll, with prime-time audiences larger than last year almost every night.  The trend in prime time culminated with strong performance from the quarterfinals and semifinals, leading to an ESPN record for the women’s championship, a battle of young Americans.  Unseeded Sloane Stephens defeated No. 15 Madison Keys 6-3, 6-0, and the match averaged a total live audience of 1.9 million, the most for the women’s final in ESPN’s three years televising the entire tournament.

It was the most-streamed US Open in ESPN history.  Linear streaming feeds generated an average minute audience of 20,300, up 43% from last year, and 175.1 million total minutes viewed, up +48%.

The highest-rated markets for the event were Washington D.C., West Palm Beach, New York, Richmond, and Tampa.

ESPN’s coverage of the 2017 tennis season concludes with “first ball to last ball” coverage of the ATP Finals from the O2 Arena in London.  Live streaming on the ESPN app begins Sunday, Nov. 12, with ESPN2 joining Thursday, Nov. 16, through the championship Sunday, Nov. 19.



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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