An average of 2.44 million viewers tuned in to watch the women’s US Open final between unheralded teenagers Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez on ESPN, beating the average viewership of the men’s final by 17 per cent.
The women’s final, which saw 18-year-old Emma Raducanu become the first qualifier to win a major title, peaked at 3.4 million viewers between 6 and 6.15pm ET, the highest peak viewership of the entire tournament. The women’s final was the first in the Open era to feature two unseeded players and it had a 37 per cent increase in viewers compared to last year, when Naomi Osaka played Victoria Azarenka.
In comparison, the men’s final between World No.1 Novak Djokovic and World No.2 Daniil Medvedev averaged 2.05 million viewers and had a peak of 2.7 million viewers between 6.15 and 6.30pm.
In the United States, ESPN took over the exclusive broadcasting rights to the US Open in 2015, and also holds the rights to the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
The high viewership of the women’s final reflects the continuing growth of women’s sport, and in particular, sheds a light on the increasing popularity of women’s tennis in recent years. It’s a massive achievement, considering Raducanu and Fernandez both had relatively small profiles before the tournament, and the men’s final featured the world’s top two ranked players, Djokovic and Medvedev.
The #USOpen women’s final was watched by 2.44M viewers, 17% more viewers on average than watched the men’s match (2.05M).— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) September 15, 2021
Yet women’s sports receives a mere 4% of all sports media coverage.
Women’s sports must be given the parity they deserve. https://t.co/v8J2K3at4n
Emma Raducanu became the first British woman to win a Grand Slam since 1977, and received a personal message of congratulations from Queen Elizabeth after the win. She is also the youngest Grand Slam champion since Maria Sharapova in 2004.
We are taking her HOMEEE❤️🇬🇧🏆 pic.twitter.com/L6P52UFpAm— Emma Raducanu (@EmmaRaducanu) September 12, 2021
Speaking after the win, Raducanu said she was “loving life” and didn’t have a “care in the world”.
“I think my parents have both instilled in me from a very young age to definitely have a positive attitude on court, because when I was younger, it was definitely an absolute no-go if I had any sort of bad attitude,” she said. “From a young age, I definitely learnt that, and it’s followed me until now.”