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Young Americans Lift ESPN to US Open Women’s Semifinal Overnight Rating Record


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  • All-American Women’s Semifinals: 6 Overnight Rating, up 33% from 2016, ESPN’s Best Ever
  • ESPN Total Average Audience up 10% after 10 Days
  • Federer-Del Potro Audience up 62% vs. Same Night Last Year
  • Men’s Semis Friday: Nadal vs. Del Potro, Anderson vs. Carreno Busta


A new young American tennis champion will be crowned at the US Open Women’s Championship Saturday, Sept 9, at 4 p.m. on ESPN as 22-year old No. 15 seed Madison Keys plays 24-year old Sloane Stephens, two players the U.S. tennis community has looked to for many years as hopes for the future of the game in this country.   Cliff Drysdale – who was on ESPN’s first tennis telecasts 38 years ago on September 14, 1979 (one week after ESPN launched) – will call the match with fellow Hall of Famer Chrissie Evert.  Mary Joe Fernandez will report from the sideline while Pam Shriver will conduct interviews with pertinent members of the tennis community and fans in attendance at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Thursday’s semifinals in which Stephens and Keys emerged victorious earned a 1.6 overnight rating in the metered markets (which, notably did not include tennis stronghold Miami because of the weather).  The 1.6 is 33% higher than the 1.2 last year and is ESPN’s highest for the women’s semifinals in the three years since acquiring exclusivity for the US Open.

Saturday’s matchup is intriguing, and will conclude with the first US Open women’s champion from the United States not named Williams since Lindsay Davenport in 1998.  Also, it is the first all-American US Open Women’s Championship since Serena and Venus met in 2002.  Neither player has previously reached a Major final, and both had surgery in January.  Stephens, a 5’ 7” Floridian, was ranked as high as No. 11 back in 2013.  She has four career WTA titles, and after a long recovery from foot surgery returned to action at Wimbledon.  Keys, 5’ 10” and born in Illinois, was ranked as high as No. 7 last October.  She has three career titles and missed the Australian Open due to left wrist surgery.

ESPN’s Total Average Audience for US Open up 10% after 10 Days; Federer-Del Potro Scores Big

The total average audience for ESPN’s exclusive coverage of the US Open from New York through Wednesday, Sept. 6, was up 10% to 914,000 viewers on average, compared to 834,000 for the first 10 days of last year’s event.  The increase includes a 48% rise in the audience for streaming.

In final Nielsen ratings, the biggest night of the tournament through Wednesday was that night’s quarterfinal between Juan Martin del Potro and Roger Federer.  The total average audience of just over two million viewers was 62% higher than the same night a year ago (1,240,000).

Men’s Semifinals Friday

The men’s semifinals on ESPN, the ESPN app and ESPN Deportes on Friday, Sept. 8, at 4 p.m. will pit two former US Open champions in one match and two first-time Major semifinalists in the other.  Top seed Rafael Nadal (2010, ’13) will face No. 24 Juan Martin del Potro (2009) in the nightcap.  Nadal leads their head-to-head 8-5.  First, No. 12 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain plays No. 28 Kevin Anderson of South Africa.  Anderson has won their only two meetings, including last month on the outdoor hard court in Montreal.

ESPN’s two weeks of exclusive live coverage from tennis’ fourth and final Major of the year culminates with the Women’s Championship on Saturday, Sept. 9, and the Men’s Championship on Sunday, Sept. 10, both at 4 p.m.  In addition, the Mixed Doubles Championship is Saturday at noon exclusively on ESPN3, and the Women’s Doubles Championship airs on Sunday at 1 p.m. on ESPN2.

Date Time (ET) Event Network(s)
Fri Sept 8 4 p.m. US Open Men’s Semifinals ESPN / ESPN Deportes
Sat Sept 9 Noon US Open Mixed Doubles Championship ESPN3
  4 p.m. US Open Women’s Championship ESPN / ESPN Deportes
Sun Sept 10 1 p.m. US Open Women’s Doubles Championship ESPN2
  3 p.m. US Open Men’s Championship Preview Special ESPN
  4 p.m. US Open Men’s Championship ESPN / ESPN Deportes
  8:30 p.m. US Open Men’s Championship ESPN2 (encore)