With ESPN having rights to all of the four major Grand Slam tournaments and airing the finals in three of them, the Worldwide Leader plans a very big year for tennis. On television, ESPN’s networks will air more than 600 hours of coverage. Online, ESPN3 will stream over 5,000 hours of tennis comprising of all of the Grand Slams plus ATP and WTA Tour events.
For tennis fans, it’s a literal smorgasbord of coverage. ESPN’s press release outlines the start of 2015’s calendar with two prep tournaments in Australia leading up to the Australian Open later this month:
The 2015 action gets underway in January with action from two WTA events – the Brisbane International and the Apia International Sydney – on ESPN3 leading to ESPN’s 31st Australian Open which begins Sunday, Jan. 18. The year’s first Major will receive more than 150 hours of television – nearly 110 scheduled live plus afternoon reairs of overnight action – and a most-ever additional 800 on ESPN3 with action from up to 13 courts.
Expected to call the action on television will be Chris Fowler as the main play-by-play voice, ESPN original Cliff Drysdale, Chris Evert, Mary Jo Fernandez, Brad Gilbert, the Brothers McEnroe (John and Patrick) and Pam Shriver. Chris McKendry, Hannah Storm and Mike Tirico will return to host at various points of the tennis year.
2015 marks the year that ESPN will take over the full rights to the U.S. Open from CBS which had been broadcasting the tournament from 1968 until 2014. Now ESPN will air the tournament in full leaving only the French Open whose finals are aired on broadcast television.
ESPN has been televising tennis since it began operations in 1979 and has been slowly building its inventory to the point where it has all of the Grand Slams and most ATP and WTA Tour events including the year-end tournaments.
For tennis fans, it will be mostly one-stop shopping this year with either on TV on ESPN’s networks or online with ESPN3.