A single sporting event featured two GOATs winning championships over the weekend, and ESPN reaped the benefits. The Worldwide Leader said today that its overnight coverage of tennis’ Australian Open saw ratings increases and set a network record for the men’s final.
The Open featured a pair of retro dream matchups in the men’s and women’s final: 35-year-old — and 13th seeded — Roger Federer beat rival Rafael Nadal for his record-extending 18th Grand Slam singles title, and Serena Williams beat her sister Venus Williams for her record-breaking 23rd major singles title in the Open era. It was the first time the sisters had met in a Grand Slam final since 2009. 35-year-old Serena’s win helps cement her status as the greatest female tennis player of all time, while Federer merely boosted his legend.
ESPN said the men’s final — the first Federer-Nadal matchup in a Grand Slam final since 2011 and their eighth overall — drew a record audience since it moved to an overnight ET time slot in 2005. Starting at 3:30 AM ET Sunday, the five-set match posted a 0.9 overnight rating, up 80% from the 2016 final between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. The network said it likely will be the most-watched program at that hour in ESPN history.
The women’s match began at 3 AM ET Saturday and drew a o.7 overnight rating, up 17% from the 2016 title match in which Angelique Kerber beat Serena Williams.