US Open Viewership up 33% in Prime Time, 13% Overall


US Open Viewership up 33% in Prime Time, 13% Overall

Men’s Championship up 37% for Djokovic’s Grand Slam Quest 

Women’s Championship up 30%; Hits Highest Peak Audience of Tournament 

Men’s Semifinals Combine for 46% Increase 

The 2021 US Open in New York averaged 881,000 viewers in prime time, up 33% (from 662,000) over last year, and it was up 13% (from an average of 702,000 to 796,000) for the entire two weeks of telecasts.  Coverage totaled 153 hours across ESPN and ESPN2, an increase of 15% over the 133 that had been scheduled.  

This past weekend’s women’s and men’s championships – both featuring historic storylines – each enjoyed large increases over 2020.   

Women’s Championship:  Fernandez vs. Raducanu 

  • Saturday’s women’s final between unheralded teenagers Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez – the first Major final, male or female, with two unseeded players in the Open Era (since 1968) – averaged 2.44 million viewers.  That represents an increase of 30% over last year (Victoria Azarenka vs. Naomi Osaka). 
  •  The match peaked at 3.4 million viewers at 6-6:15 p.m. ET, ESPN’s highest peak of the tournament. 
  • It is the most-watched women’s final of the seven ESPN has televised since acquiring US Open exclusivity in 2015 that did not include Serena Williams (2018, 2019).   
  • Raducanu – the first man or woman to reach a Major final having come through qualifying – defeated Fernandez 6-4, 6-3. 

Men’s Championship:  Djokovic vs. Medvedev 

  • The men’s final featured the first attempt by a man to win the Grand Slam – capturing all four Major crowns in one calendar year – since Rod Laver in 1969.  Top-seeded Novak Djokovic was also seeking sole ownership of the record for career Majors won by a man, currently a tie at 20 with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. 
  • His match against #2 Daniil Medvedev averaged 2.05 million viewers, up 37% from a year ago.  It peaked at 2.7 million viewers at 6:15-30 p.m.   
  • Medvedev won his first Major title in denying Djokovic his place in history with a straight sets win – 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. 

Men’s Semifinals 

The Men’s Semifinals – now split into an afternoon match (Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Daniil Medvedev) and one in prime time (Novak Djokovic vs. Alexander Zverev) – combined to average 1.3 million viewers.  That represents an increase of 46% over 2020. 


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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