ESPN and the USTA signed an 11-year, $770 million deal that will give ESPN the rights to the entire U.S. Open and put the tournament solely on cable, reports SportsBusiness Daily. The deal will start in 2015. Currently, CBS and ESPN pay around $20 million each for their packages, part of a three-year deal. In the new deal, ESPN will pay an average of $70 million per year for all of the tournament's rights.
From the SportsBusiness Daily report:
The move to take the entire U.S. Open to cable ends an era that has seen CBS broadcast the event every year since '68.
The move fits within ESPN's strategy of bringing championship events to cable. In recent years, ESPN has picked up rights to the BCS Championship, British Open and Wimbledon. ESPN also produces the NBA Finals and Indianapolis 500, events which are broadcast on ABC. CBS had a chance to keep its broadcast part of the package for more than $30M per year, sources said. But given the tournament's poor ratings recently, CBS passed on the opportunity. The loss of tennis opens up CBS weekends for SEC football games and an NFL doubleheader, both of which rate much higher than the US Open.