Last night’s US Open quarterfinal on ESPN featuring the much-anticipated face-off between top-seeded Serena Williams and No. 23 Venus Williams earned a 4.8 rating, peaking at a 5.6 from 10-10:15 PM ET.
The entire 5:15 telecast (including a second match, Novak Djokovic over Feliciano Lopez) scored a 2.7 from Nielsen’s metered markets — up 145% over the same time slot last year and the second best for tennis in ESPN history on any ESPN network. The only higher overnight rating for tennis was the 2012 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Championship – Roger Federer over Andy Murray – with a 3.1.
Among the metered markets, West Palm Beach led with a 4.8 for the entire telecast, followed by New York (4.7), Atlanta (4.5), Richmond (4.1) and Washington DC (4.0) Eleven markets set a new high for tennis on an ESPN network: New Orleans, Raleigh-Durham, Miami, Louisville, Birmingham, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Sacramento and Nashville.
It was also a record day for tennis on WatchESPN with 612,000 users totaling 44.8 million minutes viewed. The previous best came Monday, with 447,000 users and 40.3 million minutes.
The victory leaves Serena just two wins shy of a true (calendar year) Grand Slam – a feat not accomplished since Steffi Graf in 1988. The women’s semifinals – including Williams vs. unseeded 32-year old Roberta Vinci – are on ESPN on Thursday, September 11, at 7 PM.