Serena drama means high ratings for ESPN

NEW YORK – The women’s singles final at the US Open might not have ended the way many hoped, or expected.

But the high level of drama meant that the overnight ratings on host broadcaster ESPN went (by tennis standards), through the roof.


The Williams vs. Naomi Osaka match checked in with the second-highest overnight ratings in ESPN’s history with the event. ESPN took over the non-weekend broadcast rights from the USA network in 2009 and has had the exclusive rights since CBS exited the picture in 2015.

The only broadcast with higher ratings (out of 225 in total) was the network’s prime-time broadcast on quarterfinals day in 2015, when Williams played her sister Venus.

Up 32% from ’17, 79% from ’16

Last night’s program is tied for second all-time with the 2015 men’s singles final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

The 2.4 overnight rating is up 32 per cent from last year’s women’s final between Americans Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys. And it is 79 per cent higher than the 2016 women’s final between Angelique Kerber and Karolina Pliskova, two non-Americans.

Not surprisingly, the numbers peaked (at 3.3) during the last 15 minutes of the match – when everything went haywire.

The highest ratings came from the West Palm Beach area (where Williams resides) at a 6.0, Washington, D.C. at 5.5, and Richmond, Virginia at 5.1. New York City checked in at 4.5.

It will be fascinating – although hardly conclusive about any bigger-picture issues – to see how the men’s final between Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro does, in comparison.

(The numbers indicated above are the percentage of households in the U.S., who have the TV turned on, and were watching the tennis. It is obviously a statistical analysis based on sample sizes, and not an exact count).

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