Long run ends: CBS prepares to do final weekend of U.S. Open

I can remember time in the 80s when I used to arrange my schedule so I could watch Saturday of the U.S. Open. So many great players: McEnroe, Borg, Connors, Navratilova, Evert, Becker…

The day featured the men’s semis and the women’s finals, called by the great Pat Summerall and Tony Trabert. Must see TV.

Last year, CBS did a tribute to Summerall’s work at the U.S. Open.

Obviously, time marches on, and an era in sports TV will end this week. Richard Sandomir of the New York Times has a nice piece on CBS’ final U.S. Open.

When the United States Tennis Championships became the U.S. Open in 1968, CBS Sports televised the tournament from the Forest Hills section of Queens, with Bud Collins and Jack Kramer calling matches that featured Arthur Ashe’s milestone victory in the men’s final.

That was the start of a long tradition at CBS. No other broadcaster has shown the Open, the same distinction that holds for CBS and the Masters golf tournament, partners since 1956. But while the CBS-Masters relationship looks as if it will go on as long as golf exists, the CBS-United States Open connection will end after the men’s final is played Monday afternoon.

Next year, the network will compete against the tennis tournament with football, a virtual guarantee of substantially higher ratings. On the two Saturdays of the Open, the network will probably add a Southeastern Conference game, and on the final Sunday, it will do its best to carry a second N.F.L. game to create a doubleheader.

 ESPN will take over coverage of the Open, merging what CBS carried with what the network has been carrying since 2009. For all that, ESPN is paying $825 million over 11 years, perhaps half of it tied to snapping up the men’s and women’s semifinals and finals.

“ESPN will do a terrific job producing it,” said Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports, “and maybe someday in the future, it will come back to CBS.”



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