US Open: Most-Watched Ever on ESPN


US Open: Most-Watched Ever on ESPN

Coco Gauff, Thrilling Finals Boost Audience 23%

ESPN’s live, exclusive coverage of the US Open was seen by an average of 1,275,000 viewers (P2+), up 23% from last year (1,038,000), ESPN’s most ever for the event.  The previous best was 2015, ESPN’s first year of exclusivity and airing the entire tournament (1,265,000).  The increase includes all the key male, female and adult demos.  Notably, there was a 32% increase among women 18-34 and a 10% increase among men in that age range.

Overall, 2019 was an extremely strong year for Grand Slam tennis on the ESPN networks.  The US Open increase comes on the heels of Wimbledon’s 30% increase and the Australian Open viewership was up 27%.

While the excitement over 15-year-old American phenom Coco Gauff sparked US Open ratings during the first week, increases were experienced throughout the two-week event. Overall, 28 of 29 comparable telecast windows saw an increase in viewership over 2018.

Three of this year’s telecasts rank in the top 10 of ESPN’s all-time 256 US Open telecasts, starting in 2009:

  • The most-watched telecast this year was the Women’s Championship on September 7 – Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu surprising Serena Williams 6-3, 7-5 – which earned a 2.0 rating and an average of 3,219,000 viewers, ranking second all-time (behind only the 2015 men’s final at 3,321,000).


  • At #5, the Men’s Championship on September 8 – Rafael Nadal outlasting Daniil Madvedev in a five-set, five-hour marathon for his 19th Major title – posted a 1.6 rating with an average of 2,751,000 viewers. It is the most-watched US Open Men’s Championship since 2015.


  • Ranking seventh on ESPN’s list, the Tuesday, Sept. 3, telecast with quarterfinal matches including Serena Williams (defeating Qiang Wang) and Roger Federer (losing to Grigor Dimitrov) drew a 1.4 rating, averaging 1,737,000 viewers.


Overall, including the addition of four days of qualifying during “Fan Week” on ESPNEWS which made the US Open a three-week endeavor, ESPN presented 178 hours of television from the US Open, 11% more than the scheduled 160 (up from 137 a year ago), thanks to late-night tennis running past the scheduled telecast window (six nights went past midnight ET).

The 12 highest-rated markets for the US Open were Washington, DC (2.0), New York (1.9), Tampa-St Pete and West Palm Beach (1.7), Richmond and New Orleans (1.5), Las Vegas (1.4), and five cities tied for eighth:  Ft. Myers, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami, and Atlanta (1.3).


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

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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