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ESPN and Tennis Channel Expand Coverage of U.S. Open Series

The Emirates Airline U.S. Open Series, the annual five-week, eight-tournament slate of men’s and women’s pro tennis events in the U.S. and Canada leading up to the U.S. Open in late August, will have additional TV and online coverage this summer via partners ESPN and Tennis Channel.

TV coverage kicks off July 24 on Tennis Channel with a new half-hour preview show (3:30 p.m. ET), followed by six hours of live coverage (4-10 p.m.) from the BB&T Atlanta Open, where defending champion and top-ranked American John Isner is scheduled to compete along with 2013 finalist Kevin Anderson of South Africa and American Sam Querrey. Coverage from Atlanta continues through this weekend on Tennis Channel and ESPN2, which will air the championship match July 27 at 4 p.m.

ESPN2 and Tennis Channel this year will offer 25 consecutive days of live TV coverage of the Open Series, from July 24 through the Aug. 17 men’s final of the Western & Southern Open from Cincinnati. ESPN also will have more than 80 hours of live matches on WatchESPN and additional live streaming coverage on ESPN3.

The Cincinnati tournament and the Aug. 4-10 Rogers Cup events in Toronto (men) and Montreal (women) are scheduled to feature all of tennis’ marquee players including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, getting their hardcourt games tuned up for the Open (Aug. 25-Sept. 8 in New York).

ESPN2 this year is adding coverage of the men’s final in Cincinnati, replacing CBS. CBS’ sole Open Series broadcast will be the Aug. 23 final of the men’s Winston-Salem Open. CBS’ 47-year relationship with the U.S. Open will end after its Labor Day weekend and Sept. 5-8 semifinals and finals coverage. ESPN is set to begin a new 11-year, reported $825-million exclusive rights deal for the Open (and the Open Series) beginning in 2015.

In an effort to boost TV and digital viewership and attendance, players who compete and earn results-based points in at least three Open Series events this year will have their point totals doubled heading into the U.S. Open. (Following the Open, players receive bonus payments of up to $1 million based on points earned during the Series.) The new points incentive is designed to encourage elite players to compete at more tournaments beyond their two must-play events in Cincy and Canada. The 12th-ranked Isner has committed to all five of the men’s tournaments.

Integrations with third-year title sponsor Emirates Airline are also ramping up, with the Persian Gulf-based carrier investing in youth tennis and education programs in all Series markets and also covering the cost of refurbishing six courts in Washington, D.C.’s Takoma Park, efforts that will be noted during the TV broadcasts.

“We’re pretty proud that Emirates is supporting tennis programs for kids and have found it beneficial for them,” said J. Wayne Richmond, general manager of the 11-year-old Open Series for the U.S. Tennis Association. “They are helping us build the Series and are building their brand in the U.S.”