ESPN Snatches U.S. Open From CBS — Dealing Another Blow to Broadcast Sports Rights

May 17, 2013  •  Post A Comment

In what The New York Times calls the "latest assault on the fraying broadcast sports model," ESPN said it will take control of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in 2015, ending CBS’s almost half-century airing the event. We reported earlier this week that ESPN was close to a deal for the event, which has aired on CBS since 1968.

The Times notes: "ESPN already has the tournament’s cable rights and will pay $825 million over 11 years to combine what it has carried since 2009 with what CBS has televised. It also promised that every match would be seen live on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN3, the broadband network."

In an interview, ESPN President John Skipper played down the difference between broadcast and cable. "We feel that sports rights are the most valuable commodity in media. The difference between broadcast and cable is inconsequential," he told The Times.

Under the deal, ESPN will pay $75 million a year for the open, or almost quadruple what it had been paying.

"Still, it amounts to pocket change for ESPN, which in 2014 will start a long-term deal in which it will pay $1.9 billion a year to continue to carry ‘Monday Night Football,’" the piece notes.

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