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ESPN Signs 11-Year Deal for Exclusive Rights to U.S. Open Tennis

May 16 (Bloomberg) -- ESPN reached agreement for exclusive rights to the U.S. Open, wresting the tennis tournament’s finals away from CBS after 47 years.

The 11-year-deal with the U.S. Tennis Association begins in 2015, Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN said in an e-mailed release without mentioning the financial details. The deal is worth $770 million, according to the Sports Business Daily.

The final Grand Slam tournament of the year, the U.S. Open is held at the National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens, starting at the end of August.

“Certain sporting events become synonymous with when they are held, and there is no better -- or bigger -- way to celebrate the end of summer than at the U.S. Open in New York,” ESPN President John Skipper said in the release. “We look forward to capturing every match, every star, every championship and all the drama on this grand stage.”

ESPN will work to make every match on all 17 courts available on ESPN3, its online video platform, over the course of the contract, according to the release. Six of the courts have coverage now.

“This wide-ranging and broad relationship with ESPN positions tennis at the forefront of American sports,” USTA Chairman Dave Haggerty said in the release.

CBS has been a broadcast partner of the tournament every year since 1968, and is in the middle of a deal in which it shares coverage of the event with ESPN. The network, which airs the men’s and women’s finals under the current agreement, had a 45-day exclusive negotiating window that expired at the end of April, according to Sports Business Daily, allowing ESPN to negotiate for the entire tournament.

Best Wishes

“We are proud of our long-term association with the USTA and wish them well,” the CBS Corp. unit said in a statement.

The network said it has “profitable partnerships with all of our key sports franchises locked up for many, many years to come,” including the National Football League, Southeastern Conference football, the men’s national college basketball tournament and golf’s PGA Tour.

Today’s agreement means ESPN will air the championships for three of tennis’ four Grand Slam tournaments. ESPN acquired the rights to Wimbledon two years ago, ending NBC’s 43-year run of showing the tournament, and has carried the Australian Open since 1984. The cable network also has carried some action from the French Open for more than a decade, with the championship matches from Paris aired on Comcast Corp.’s NBC.

To contact the reporters on this story: Eben Novy-Williams in New York at enovywilliam@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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