The USTA, ESPN and Tennis Channel have announced a groundbreaking television and multi-platform partnership
The USTA, ESPN and Tennis Channel have announced a groundbreaking television and multi-platform partnership creating a summer-long “Open Season” for tennis featuring more than 400 national television hours for the US Open and the Olympus US Open Series — an increase of nearly 100 hours. Commencing in 2009, ESPN and Tennis Channel will join CBS and become the US Open cable television broadcasters for the first time.
Under the new deal, the US Open will receive 200 hours of total coverage, an increase of over 50 hours — the most in US Open history. This marks the first time that the Series and the US Open will be carried by the same cable broadcast partner — creating a more consistent TV package for the sport. For 2008, USA Network will remain the US Open’s exclusive cable broadcaster.
For 2009 and beyond, ESPN2 will become the lead cable broadcaster for the US Open and the Olympus US Open Series, broadcasting nearly 200 hours of tennis coverage during the eight-week North American summer tennis season. Tennis Channel, which continues as a Series broadcaster with nearly 150 hours of Series coverage, will now also broadcast more than 60 hours of live US Open coverage. For the first time, Tennis Channel also will broadcast daily US Open preview and highlight shows. CBS Sports will continue to broadcast nearly 40 hours of live US Open coverage, bringing the overall national coverage of tennis during the summer season to more than 400 hours.
The six-year deal will also deliver the US Open across multiple platforms including ESPN, ESPN2, Tennis Channel, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPN International, ESPN360 broadband programming, ESPN.com, TennisChannel.com and ESPN Mobile Properties. In addition, USOpen.org retains all rights to live streaming of US Open matches.
“This completes a five-year process of reinventing the television and digital landscape for the sport of tennis in North America,” said Arlen Kantarian, CEO Pro Tennis, USTA. “Tennis will now be prominently featured for eight straight weeks on ESPN — the premiere destination in sports; Tennis Channel — our sport’s namesake network; and CBS — our longtime network partner. This new partnership will provide more tennis, to more people, in more ways than ever before.”
“Tennis has provided many memorable moments in ESPN history, and to finally acquire the excitement and drama of the US Open is a crowning achievement,” said John Skipper, ESPN Executive Vice President, Content. “The sport is a perfect fit for our growing digital businesses, and fans will know to find the best tennis action all year on ESPN2 and on ESPN360.com.”
“Tennis Channel is proud to now become a long-term partner in one of the greatest spectacles in all of sports,” said Ken Solomon, Chairman and CEO, Tennis Channel. “For us, the US Open and the Olympus US Open Series that leads up to it each summer go far beyond sports, as collectively the ‘Open Season’ represents an unprecedented eight weeks of the best mass-appeal content in the world. Our multi-platform broadcast and marketing partnership with the USTA and ESPN, coupled with CBS’ world-class coverage will create significantly greater awareness of professional tennis in the years to come.”
US Open Television Coverage
ESPN’s US Open coverage will include approximately 100 hours, including weekday afternoon coverage and exclusive weekday primetime broadcasts. Tennis Channel will broadcast more than 60 live hours from the US Open, including exclusive primetime broadcasts on Saturday and Sunday evenings of Labor Day weekend. Below is a summary of the schedule:
- ESPN2: Live every weekday from 1-6 p.m. and primetime from 7-11 p.m.
- Tennis Channel: Live every weekday from 11-2 p.m.; live outer-court coverage from 2-6 p.m.; daily preview show from 10-11 a.m.; nightly highlights show at 11 p.m., followed by encore of matches until 10 a.m. the next morning.
Labor Day Weekend
- CBS: Live coverage from 11-6 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
- ESPN2: Live coverage on Monday from 7-11 p.m.
- Tennis Channel: Live coverage on Saturday and Sunday from 7-11 p.m.; nightly highlights show at 11 p.m., followed by encore of matches until 10 a.m. the next morning.
- ESPN2: Live Tuesday – Thursday from 11-6 p.m. and live primetime quarterfinals from 7-11 p.m.
- Tennis Channel: Live outer-court coverage from 11-6 p.m; daily preview show from 10-11 a.m.; nightly highlights show at 11 p.m., followed by encore of matches until 10 a.m. the next morning.
- CBS: Live coverage during finals weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, including the men’s doubles final, the men’s and women’s Semifinals, the women’s primetime final on Saturday night and the men’s final on Sunday.
- ESPN2: Live coverage of women’s doubles final at 1 p.m. Sunday; US Open wrap-up show from 8-10 p.m.
US Open Digital and Extended Platforms
The components of this multi-platform deal include cable television, broadband, mobile properties and Spanish language distribution via ESPN Deportes. Highlights include:
- ESPN360.com, ESPN’s signature broadband network, can present action from all TV courts during ESPN2 windows, plus simulcasts of ESPN2’s coverage, totaling more than 300 hours.
- ESPN.com will provide blanket coverage of the US Open, with the latest news and scores, as well as commentary, photos and daily video news and summaries from ESPN commentators.
- ESPN Mobile Properties will present live action, press conferences and highlights.
- ESPN has the right to display a multi-court mosaic platform during its TV windows.
- Tennischannel.com will have rights to stream live match action on a non-exclusive basis.
- ESPN International, which has been a US Open broadcast partner for several years, will continue to provide US Open broadcasts to Latin America and sub-Sahara Africa.
- USOpen.org also plans to stream US Open matches and will continue to feature exclusive live scoring.
Olympus US Open Series TV Coverage
- ESPN2 will remain the lead broadcaster of the Series and provide nearly 100 hours of consistent live weekly coverage, including back-to-back men’s and women’s finals on Sundays from 3-7 p.m.
- Tennis Channel will continue to provide nearly 150 hours of Series coverage and weekly encore telecasts of semifinals and finals.
- CBS will continue to provide live finals coverage from select Series events.
- Since its launch four years ago, the Series has doubled television viewership, increased event attendance and generated new corporate partners for the sport.
- In 2008, Olympus became the first Series title sponsor, with the Series renamed the “Olympus US Open Series.”
- In total, the 2007 Olympus US Open Series — including the US Open — generated a record 1.7 million attendees, more than 120 million TV viewers and over 32 million website visits in the eight-week period.