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ESPN reportedly close to acquiring all U.S. Open coverage rights

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U.S. Open

The U.S. Open has been televised by CBS since 1968. (David Walberg/SI)

Sports Business Daily reports ESPN is close to acquiring all coverage rights for the U.S. Open beginning in 2015, moving the tournament coverage exclusively to cable. CBS has owned some portion of the coverage rights since 1968.

ESPN’s pitch to the USTA was of a Wimbledon-style deal, where ESPN picks up rights to the entire tournament, bringing another major sports championship to cable. ESPN has a lot of college football commitments in the fall, but has committed to carry the semis and finals on ESPN. Their plan includes TV Everywhere rights, which allow it to stream live matches to authenticated users.

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As Sports Business Daily reports, CBS has struggled in its coverage of the tournament’s final weekend. Rain pushed the men’s final to Monday the last five years, forcing CBS to scramble its schedule for a programing window that often went up against the opening night of the NFL’s Monday Night Football. With the extended length of the men’s finals in recent years, the coverage often bounced around from CBS to ESPN2, even to ESPN Classic.

The USTA announced in December that it would do away with the traditional (and CBS-driven) “Super Saturday” format that saw both men’s semifinals and the women’s final played on Saturday and the men’s final on Sunday. Starting this year, both the men and women will have a day off between the semifinals and finals, with the women’s final moved to Sunday and the men’s final on Monday. The schedule change is not permanent. Should the ESPN deal go through, expect the schedule to revert to a Sunday men’s final. The network won’t want a Monday final to run up against its own Monday Night Football franchise.

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  • Published On May 13, 2013
  • 2 comments
    ChrisM
    ChrisM

    Not that psyched...after all this is a channel that would not cut away from LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL for a tennis semi one year!  Tennis gets sh#t on in this country...I'll take my pirated Eurosport Streams any day!

    MarcNichol
    MarcNichol

     @ChrisM i don't think there's any way they'll be allowed to do that for a us open semi or final, that would be in the contract....it would be similar to what happened in miami when cbs cut ferrer-murray for college basketball instead in this case tennis would be the basketball..this is unfortunate to leave a broadcast channel...it's a little loss in prestige and possible audience but that is where everything is headed tennis-wise..as a matter of fact i saw nbc promoting the french open during this weekend's golf with tiger at the players ("rafa vs. novak"!) and that is now the last slam action on broadcast..i would expect that to go too in the future when that contract is up although i think they've had a recent renewal...which is interesting because the french was always behind wimbledon as far as nbc's emphasis over the years even showing the women on tape delay and the men's semis..espn has a lot more control and flexibility though i  have a lot of issues with them too...No Ticker!!!