The rumor had been going across sports blogs all week, and today it was made official. SPN has acquired full US broadcast rights for the US Oen starting in 2015. The acquisition ends CBS's long-term history with the US Open, which dated back to 1968. The move really gives ESPN an extra 3 days of coverage they didn't have before- Labor Day, the women's championship, and the men's championship. It also gives ESPN access to stream every match on ESPN3 across all 17 courts. While ESPN has previously been able to do this, it has only been on days they've been able to provide coverage, not the days CBS had rights. Here's the full press release from ESPN.
ESPN Acquires Exclusive Rights to Tennis’ US Open Beginning in 2015
Adds Labor Day Weekend, the New Semis/Finals Format, plus Expanded Digital, International Rights in 11-Year Deal
ESPN will be the exclusive home in North and South America of the US Open from first ball through the women’s and men’s championships each summer from New York beginning in 2015, in a landmark agreement with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced today. With this 11-year agreement, ESPN now will air the championship in three of the four tennis majors.
ESPN has televised approximately100 hours of live US Open matches annually since 2009, and now will air 130+ hours with the addition of day-long coverage of the “middle weekend” – Saturday, Sunday and Labor Day Monday – plus both the men’s and women’s semifinals and finals. The new US Open schedule – previously announced to start in 2015 – places the women’s final on Saturday and the men’s on Sunday. This creates new prime-time telecasts of the women’s semifinals on the second Thursday and the men’s semifinals the following day, giving a day of rest to the two players before each final.
“Certain sporting events become synonymous with when they are held, and there is no better – or bigger – way to celebrate the end of summer than at the US Open in New York,” said John Skipper, ESPN president. “We look forward to capturing every match, every star, every championship and all the drama on this grand stage.”
Dave Haggerty, USTA Chairman of the Board and President, said, “This wide-ranging and broad relationship with ESPN positions tennis at the forefront of American sports. By teaming with the world-wide leader in sports, the USTA will continue to ensure that tennis at every level thrives in the United States.”
In addition to ESPN and ESPN2, all telecasts will be available on WatchESPN. In an expansion of offerings, over the term of the agreement ESPN will make every match on all 17 tournament courts available on ESPN3. Presently, six of the 17 courts have coverage. Also, ESPN3 will begin each day’s coverage the first Monday – Friday morning with two hours at 11 a.m. ET while SportsCenter on ESPN will have the right to do live cut-ins. ESPN3 is available via WatchESPN for fans who receive ESPN’s linear networks as part of their video subscription via Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Verizon FiOS TV, Comcast Xfinity TV, Midcontinent Communications, Cablevision, Cox, Charter or AT&T U-verse.
ESPN will continue to be the home of the entire US Open in Latin America and the Caribbean and in Canada on TSN, as it has since 2002. The new agreement brings expanded rights and increased programming hours, as in the U.S. – both on the multiple linear TV channels throughout these regions and on digital platforms.
ESPN also will become the exclusive home to the Emirates Airline US Open Series with 72 hours of action in the five-week summer series leading to the US Open. In addition, ESPN will now present Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, the music and tennis festival geared to families that serves as the unofficial kick off of the two-week tournament, on the weekend prior to the main draw tournament’s Monday start.
ESPN – All Four Slams, All In One Place
Tennis has been part of ESPN since its first week on the air and provided many memorable moments, but it has never been as important as today with all four major events and top ATP and WTA events, including the US Open Series and the season-ending championship of both tours. ESPN debuted September 7, 1979, and the first tennis telecast was exactly one week later, September 14, a Davis Cup tie, Argentina at U.S. from Memphis with Cliff Drysdale on the call and John McEnroe playing.
ESPN has presented the Australian Open since 1984; the French Open since 2002 (plus 1986 – 1993), Wimbledon since 2003, with exclusivity for live television with all other rights extended in a 12-year agreement that began in 2012; and the US Open since 2009.
ESPN3, now in 85 million homes, carries every major global tennis event on the men’s and women’s circuit, including all four Grand Slam tournaments, every ATP World Tour 500 and ATP Masters 1000 event and WTA Premier events featuring all the top-seeded players. Also, ESPN Classic shows great matches from the past and the sport receives extensive coverage on SportsCenter, ESPNEWS, Spanish-language ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. ESPN 3D aired its first tennis at Wimbledon in 2011.