Serena a Sensation: Average of 2.7 Million Viewers See Her Win First Round Match at US Open


Serena a Sensation: Average of 2.7 Million Viewers See Her Win First Round Match at US Open

Propels ESPN to Best Day 1 Overall Day, Prime Time Ever, Dating Back to 2009

Straight-Sets Victory Peaks in Final Stages with 3.2 Million Viewers 

Prime-time ESPN Telecast Nearly Four Times the 2021 Audience 

Wednesday:  Serena Again in the Spotlight under the Lights on Ashe,

Plays No. 2 Seed Anna Kontaveit at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN

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Monday night’s US Open Opening Night match with the legendary Serena Williams – in what is expected to be her final event and defeating Danka Kovinic of Montenegro in a first-round contest 6-3, 6-3 – averaged 2.7 million viewers glued to the drama for the 1:45 match. The audience peaked in the last quarter-hour (9 – 9:15 p.m. ET) at 3.2 million.

The widespread anticipation for and attention across media to the near 41-year-old’s likely farewell appearance at tennis’ final Major tournament of the year – dating back to her debut in 1998 and including a record of six titles she shares with Chrissie Evert – helped boost ESPN viewership throughout the day from the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.:

  • The network averaged an ESPN first-day record of 1.7 million viewers for PrimeTime at the US Open presented by IBM (7 p.m. – 12:03 a.m. ET), an increase of 279% — nearly four-fold – over last year and up 40% over the previous high in 2019.  ESPN has aired the US Open since 2009.
  • The afternoon window on ESPN (noon – 7 p.m.) averaged the second best ever, trailing only the first year with exclusivity and first-ball-to-last-ball coverage in 2015 (680,000) with 626,000 viewers, up 44% from 2021.
  • Combining the afternoon and prime-time windows, the total-day average of 843,000 viewers is ESPN’s best ever, again starting with 2009, and 4% better than the previous best, 809,000 in 2019.

Beyond television, Monday was the most-trafficked US Open Opening Day for ESPN Digital Properties on record, two million unique users.

Wednesday at the US Open on ESPN

Tomorrow, ESPN begins at noon as usual and continues non-stop through the evening with Second Round matches.

  • Ashe Stadium: Andy Murray, the 2012 champion, takes the court first at noon against American Emilio Nava, followed by No. 12 Coco Gauff. At 7 p.m., Serena Williams will challenge No. 2 Anna Kontaveit, followed by Daniil Medvedev, the top seed on the men’s side.
  • Armstrong Stadium: Starting at 11 a.m., No. 3 Maria Sakkari, No. 20 Madison Keys and Nick Kyrgios all play.  In prime time, it’s No. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime and then 2019 winner Bianca Andreescu.
  • Around the grounds, starting at 11 a.m. on either ESPN+ or ESPN3:
  • On Grandstand, No. 5 Ons Jabeur will be first on, followed by No. 13 Matteo Berrettini, then a battle of Americans, No. 29 Tommy Paul and Sebastian Korda, ending with No. 14 Leylah Fernandez no earlier than 5 p.m.
  • On Court 17, No. 31 Shelby Rogers of South Carolina plays first, followed by another American, Alison Riske-Amritraj, and then No. 5 Casper Ruud. Play there will conclude not before 5 p.m. with No. 27 Karan Khachanov.

ESPN & the 2022 US Open – Second Round

Date Time (ET) Network(s) Event
Mon Aug 29 – Thurs Sept 8 11 a.m. ESPN+, ESPN3 Up to 16 courts in action
Wed Aug 31 11 a.m. ESPN Deportes Second Round
7 p.m. ESPN Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM

Second Round

ESPN Deportes Second Round
Thu Sept 1 11 a.m. ESPN Deportes Second Round
6 p.m. ESPN2
7 p.m. ESPN2 Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – 

Second Round

ESPN Deportes Second Round



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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