Coco Gauff U.S. Open

Tennis star Coco Gauff could not watch her opponent in the U.S. Open quarterfinal because of the ongoing carriage dispute between ESPN and Charter Communications.

Asked about her takeaways from Jelena Ostapenko’s performance last round, Gauff admitted she couldn’t watch the match because her hotel did not have ESPN, the tournament’s broadcaster, in its cable package.

Gauff opted to go the peaceful route by not referencing ESPN going dark on Spectrum cable directly, but it wasn’t too hard to read between the lines. “I saw the scoreline. I didn’t see the match,” she told reporters with a laugh.

The U.S. Open is just one event affected by the timing of Spectrum parent company Charter Communications’ decision to turn ESPN dark starting last Thursday. College football fans missed big matchups including Duke’s upset win over Clemson this weekend as well.

ESPN and Disney might be happy for the added publicity for fans being unable to watch their favorite sports on TV during the ongoing dispute, and of course Gauff handled it like a champ. But the tensions highlight a real inflection point for Disney’s cable channels as Charter specifically highlights issues around carrying less-watched channels and price points for customers who are paying for both Disney cable and streaming services.

Gauff will play for a spot in the final on Thursday. While ESPN could opt to flex high-profile matches onto ABC as they already have done for star players this tournament, we may not have heard the last of tennis fans (and stars!) unable to tune in this week to the only major tournament played on U.S. soil.

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.