Coco Gauff’s U.S. Open Victory Trounced Men’s Final In Viewership-In Rare Win For Women’s Sports

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Topline
The dramatic win by American Coco Guaff, 19, in the U.S. Open proved to be a rare ratings breakthrough moment for women’s sports as the Saturday afternoon game trounced the men’s Sunday final in viewership and broke the ESPN record for the most-watched women’s Grand Slam final.
Coco Gauff of the United States hits a return during the women’s singles final match against Aryna … [+] Sabalenka of Belarus at the 2023 US Open tennis championships in New York, the United States, on Sept. 9, 2023. Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images
Key Facts
Nearly 3.4 million people watched Guaff become the first American teenager to win the open in more than two decades, Nielsen data shows, while 2.3 million tuned in for Djokovic’s fourth U.S. Open win and 24th major victory Sunday—which broke the modern Grand Slam record. Gauff’s championship was the most viewed women’s final of any tennis major ever broadcast on ESPN, the network said, and viewership was up 92% from the last year’s women’s championship. Gauff’s victory was the second most-viewed U.S. Open telecast (the first is owned by Serena Williams’ final match in 2022) and it helped push the weekend’s overall tournament viewership to 2.8 million—the second most-viewed U.S. Open of all time on ESPN, which has had the exclusive broadcasting rights since 2015. The women’s championship was the third most-watched program across all of cable last week, beaten only by two college football games: The anticipated Texas v. Alabama matchup was watched by 7.9 million people in first place and 4.3 million watched the Clemson v. Duke game last Monday. The men’s championship was the ninth most-watched cable program and the 10th was the semifinal matchup between Daniil Medvedev and Carlos Alcaraz, the top-ranked men’s tennis player at the time, viewed by 2.26 million.
Anthony Hill Jr., No. 0 of the Texas Longhorns, avoids a tackle by Kool-Aid McKinstry, No. 1, of the … [+] Alabama Crimson Tide during the fourth quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 09, 2023 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Getty Images
Surprising Fact
The U.S. Open’s record-scoring viewership and the second week of college football pushed ESPN to become the most-watched cable channel of last week, knocking Fox News out of its long-held top spot. An average of 1.04 million viewers were tuned in to ESPN at any given time last week, a number that rose to 2.9 million in primetime. Fox News was the second most-watched channel overall with an average viewership of 1 million, followed by MSNBC at 698,000 and CNN-owned HLN at 574,000. Fox News averaged 1.5 million primetime viewers to MSNBC’s 992,000. Outside of the five sports broadcasts in the top-10 most-viewed cable programs, all others were Fox News episodes of The Five and Jesse Watters Primetime. Nielsen has not yet released ratings data for Monday, Sept. 11, when quarterback Aaron Rogers tore his Achilles in the Buffalo Bills v. New York Jets game. The last time ESPN’s total day coverage trumped Fox News was the week of Dec. 26, 2022, Nielsen said, when the college football semifinals dominated the cable rankings: Ohio State v. Georgia drew 21.7 million viewers and TCU v. Michigan was watched by 20.9 million people.
Jahmyr Gibbs, No. 26 of the Detroit Lions, runs the ball during at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium … [+] on September 7, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. Getty Images
Tangent
The first week of regular season football showed an anticipated ratings dominance on broadcast TV. Thursday night’s season opener between the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs drew 24.7 million people to NBC, which was home to the top six most-watched broadcast shows of the week—all related to football. The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants game was viewed by 20.1 million people as the second-viewed watched broadcast and the following four belonged to pre-game shows for the two games. 60 Minutes on America’s Got Talent were the only other shows that broke into the football-dominated space with the seventh, nine and tenth most-watched broadcasts, respectively. The OT, a football analysis show on FOX, was the eighth most popular program with 6.8 million viewers.
Big Number
18.3 million. That was the average viewership for Thursday’s season opener, the slate of Sunday games and Monday Night Football on ESPN, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Viewership for the seven broadcast windows was just above last year’s opening slate of games, which averaged 18.25 million.
Further Reading
Novak Djokovic Wins U.S. Open—Surpassing Serena Williams’ Modern Grand Slam Record (Forbes)
Football Retakes Ratings Throne: Early College Game Beats Everything On Primetime Network TV Since June (Forbes)
ESPN Finishes Third In Cable Race As Debate Boosts Fox News (Forbes)
Fox News Draws 12.8 Million For First Republican Debate—Beating Expectations Despite Trump’s Absence (Forbes)

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