ESPN2 Sees Ratings Rise With Key Biscayne Coverage
By Tennis Week
Roger Federer and Kim Clijsters weren't the only winners at the Nasdaq-100 Open. ESPN2 nearly doubled its 2004 viewership with its coverage of the Key Biscayne tournament.
ESPN and ESPN2 presented slightly more than 33 hours of total Nasdaq-100 Open coverage — up 10 percent from the 30 hours the network televised in 2004 — with ESPN2 registering a significant ratings rise in its 24 hours of coverage.
ESPN2's Key Biscayne coverage reached an average of 394,000 homes, which is nearly 90 percent more than the 207,000 households the network averaged in its 2004 Nasdaq-100 Open coverage.
ESPN, which televised a little more than eight hours of the event, averaged about 351,000 households, a decline of about 6 percent from the 2004 average of 372,000.
The presence of several familiar Grand Slam champions playing deep into the draw created compelling story lines that drew fans to the stands and viewers to their televisions. Six-time champion Andre Agassi fell to Federer in the semifinals that was a rematch of the 2002 final. The unseeded Clijsters continued her winning streak by stopping Maria Sharapova to claim her second consecutive title. The tournament marked the 2005 debut of former No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne, who lost to Sharapova in their first meeting. Three-time champion Venus Williams snapped a six-match losing to younger sister Serena with her quarterfinal conquest of the three-time defending champion.
The two highest-rated matches of the tournament showcased some of the sport's biggest stars: the Federer-Agassi match on Friday night, April 1st was ESPN2's highest-rated match, drawing 590,000 households, followed by Thursday afternoon's clash between Sharapova and Venus Williams, which reached 512,000 homes.
Interestingly, the Williams sisters quarterfinal, which aired on tape delay on ESPN2 starting at 12:40 a.m. Eastern on March 30th generated a 0.4 rating in reaching 346,000 homes — a positive performance given the late-night start time on the East Coast and the fact that viewers already knew the result by the time the match was aired.
ESPN2's tennis coverage continues tomorrow at Amelia Island. ESPN2 will televise the final three days of the Bausch & Lomb Championships with coverage on Friday (1-2:30 p.m. Eastern time), Saturday (noon-2 p.m. Eastern) and Sunday's final, which will be aired from 1 to 3 p.m. Tim Ryan will serve as play-by-play announcer with Pam Shriver providing analysis. ESPN2 will televise The Family Circle Cup live from Charleston beginning next Thursday afternoon.