ESPN’s acquisition of sole broadcasting rights to the U.S. Open advances a trend in which cable networks scoop up major sporting events that traditionally had been on over-the-air networks. This is the last year CBS and ESPN share coverage, ending CBS’s 46-year involvement with the tournament.
ESPN paid top dollar to have the sole rights to the U.S. Open as of 2015, a deal worth $825 million over 11 years. It also promised that every match would be seen live on ESPN, ESPN2 or digitally on WatchESPN. Similarly, in 2011 ESPN took over the rights to broadcast Wimbledon with a 12-year deal worth nearly $500 million. ESPN’s deal ended NBC’s 43-year grip on Wimbledon.
The U.S. Open is the fourth and final grand slam for the men and women in the ATP and WTA. Held in Queens, N.Y., it is an exciting two weeks for tennis fans. New York is the largest host city of the four grand slams and the event is known for late-night entertainment, drama and an incredible atmosphere.
The New York Times reported that ESPN’s $75 million annual payment for the U.S. Open nearly quadruples what it had been paying. CBS explained that it would lose money if it increased payments to the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
USTA executive director Gordon Smith said the deal, “puts the U.S. Open at the center of American sports culture as never before.”
The U.S. Open begins Aug. 25th. Serena Williams will attempt to defend her title and go for a three-peat, while defending men’s champion Rafael Nadal will not be playing to defend his title, opening the men’s field for a new champion.