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.