ESPN acquires exclusive U.S. Open tennis TV rights (updates with details)
ESPN and the United States Tennis Association have agreed to an 11-year deal that will give ESPN exclusive broadcast rights to the U.S. Open, it was announced Thursday. The deal starts in 2015.
This means that CBS Sports, which has broadcasted the event since 1968, will be done after the 2014 U.S. Open.
ESPN, which has close to 100 hours of live U.S. Open matches since 2009, will now air over 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 U.S. 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. The U.S. Open had been the only major not to have an off day between the semifinals and finals.
In addition to ESPN and ESPN2, all telecasts will be available on WatchESPN. In an expansion of offerings, 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. while "SportsCenter" on ESPN will have the right to do live cut-ins.
“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,” ESPN president John Skipper said. "We look forward to capturing every match, every star, every championship and all the drama on this grand stage."
ESPN will now have exclusive rights to three of tennis four majors: U.S. Open, Wimbledon and the Australian Open. ESPN shares French Open coverage with NBC Sports.
ESPN has shared U.S. Open coverage with CBS Sports since 2009.
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