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U.S. Open Tennis 30 Years Of U.S. TV Ratings
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U.S. Open Tennis 30 Years Of U.S. TV Ratings

With Roger Federer gunning for his fifth U.S. Open title this year, the tournament promises to be better than ever.  But are the U.S. Open’s TV ratings also thriving?

Since 1992, CBS’s U.S. Open telecasts have drawn roughly 2 to 3 million U.S. viewers, on average, each year. 

Last year, CBS’s U.S. Open broadcasts drew an average of 1.96 million viewers per telecast — down from almost 2.2 million viewers in 2006, but up slightly from the smallest U.S. Open TV audience since 1977: 1.94 million in 2004.

The 1999 U.S. Open telecasts claimed the largest U.S. TV audiences in recent memory (almost 3.5 million viewers per telecast).  But in terms of household ratings, the early Eighties remain the true glory days of U.S. Open TV viewership.

The 1980 and 1981 tournaments claimed the highest household TV ratings to date, with 5.8% of all U.S. households tuning in per telecast.  In comparison, the 1999 U.S. Open telecasts drew just 3.5% of all U.S. households.  By 2007, the average rating had decreased to 1.7%.

Below are historic U.S. household ratings (AA%), share, and TV audience estimates (1992 – present) for CBS’s coverage of the U.S. Open tennis tournament since 1977.

YEAR # OF

TELECASTS

AA% SHARE VIEWERS P2+

(in 000’s)

WINNERS

(WOMEN/MEN)

1977 5 5.7 20 n/a Evert/Vilas
1978 5 4.8 15 n/a Evert/Connors
1979 5 5.0 15 n/a Austin/McEnroe
1980 5 5.8 17 n/a Evert-Lloyd/McEnroe
1981 6 5.8 17 n/a Austin/McEnroe
1982 6 5.1 16 n/a Evert-Lloyd/Connors
1983 8 5.0 14 n/a Navratilova/Connors
1984 9 4.5 12 n/a Navratilova/McEnroe
1985 10 4.8 14 n/a Mandlikova/Lendl
1986 8 3.7 11 n/a  Navratilova/Lendl
1987 9 3.6 11 n/a  Navratilova/Lendl
1988 7 4.2 12 n/a Graf/Wilander
1989 8 3.8 12 n/a  Graf/Becker
1990 8 4.0 12 n/a  Sabatini/Sampras
1991 7 4.4 13 n/a Seles/Edberg
1992 7 3.2 10 2,999 Seles/Edberg
1993 9 2.6 8 2,422 Graf/Sampras
1994 10 3.0 9 2,872 Sanchez-Vicario /

Agassi

1995 9 3.2 9 3,037 Graf/Sampras
1996 13 (Excludes Rain Coverage) 2.5 8 2,413 Graf/Sampras
1996 16 (Includes Rain Coverage) 2.5 7 2,415 Graf/Sampras
1997 13 2.3 7 2,269 Hingis/Rafter
1998 12 (Excludes Rain Coverage) 2.3 7 2,237 Davenport/Rafter
1998 13 (Includes Rain Coverage) 2.2 6 2,201 Davenport/Rafter
1999 12 (Excludes Rain Coverage) 3.5 9 3,486 S. Williams/Agassi
1999 13 (Includes Rain Coverage) 3.4 9 3,384 S. Williams/Agassi
2000 9 2.8 8 2,886 V. Williams/Safin
2001 10 3.0 8 3,171 V. Williams/Hewitt
2002 7 (Excludes Rain Coverage) 3.0 8 3,179 S. Williams/Sampras
2002 11 (Includes Rain Coverage) 2.5 7 2,643 S. Williams/Sampras
2003 8 (Excludes Rain Coverage) 1.9 5 2,080 Henin-Hardenne /

Roddick

2003 11 (Includes Rain Coverage) 1.9 5 2,062 Henin-Hardenne /

Roddick

2004 11 1.8 5 1,942 Kuznetsova/Federer
2005 10 2.1 6 2,367 Clijsters/Federer
2006 10 (Excludes Rain Coverage) 2.1 5 2,359 Sharapova/Federer
2006 11 (Includes Rain Coverage) 2.0 5 2,186 Sharapova/Federer
2007 9 1.7 5 1,959 Henin/Federer
Source: The Nielsen Company (1977 – 2007).
Note: Effective January 1, 2006, data includes Live and Same Day DVR viewing.