The eighth season of the Olympus US Open Series, the six-week North American summer tennis season that links 10 ATP World Tour and WTA summer tournaments to the US Open,will launch on Monday with the Atlanta Tennis Championships. Since its inception in 2004, the six-week Olympus US Open Series has more than doubled television viewership and increased event attendance, while generating new corporate partnerships for the sport.
Throughout the summer, the Series will feature nearly 200 live television hours on ESPN2, Tennis Channel and CBS Sports, highlighted by back-to-back men’s and women’s finals on Sundays on ESPN2 and select finals on CBS Sports. The Olympus US Open Series premieres Friday, July 22, from the Atlanta Tennis Championships with two hours on Tennis Channel, followed by four hours on ESPN2. An additional seven hours of coverage on both networks will follow over the weekend, with the finals airing live on Sunday on ESPN2 beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
More than 200 of the game’s top players will compete during the Series for $40 million in prize money. Additionally, through the Olympus US Open Series Bonus Challenge, the USTA will offer up to an additional $2.6 million in bonus prize money at the US Open to the top three men’s and top three women’s singles finishers in the Olympus US Open Series. The Olympus US Open Series Bonus Challenge has resulted in the largest paychecks in tennis history for men ($2.4 million– Roger Federer, 2007) and women ($2.2 million– Kim Clijsters, 2005 and 2010). For 2011, both the men’s and women’s US Open singles champions will earn a record $1.8 million with the ability to earn an additional $1 million in bonus prize money (for a total $2.8 million potential payout) based on their performances in the Olympus US Open Series.
The Olympus US Open Series season will be supported again by a multi-million dollar national marketing campaign, the OlympusUSOpenSeries.com website, and sponsor activation on both the national and local levels. In 2008, Olympus became the first title sponsor of the Series. The Olympus US Open Series is also supported by sponsors American Express, evian, Esurance and Gatorade.
Nearly 200 hours of live tennis action will be televised during the six weeks of the Olympus US Open Series, with ESPN remaining the lead broadcaster, and additional national coverage from Tennis Channel and CBS Sports. The Olympus US Open Series, with the US Open, provides tennis with more live national television coverage during its eight weeks than any other summer sport over the same time period. Series broadcasts reached 48 million viewers last year, more than doubling viewership numbers of these events prior to the launch of the Series in 2004.
Broadcast initiatives will include efforts to further enrich the television viewer experience through the creation of "look-in" coverage during select matches between tournaments as well as the planned introduction of a new broadcast animation package. In addition, the new combined Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and virtually-combined Rogers Cup event in Canada (men’s Montreal event and women’s Toronto event) will present viewers with expanded match coverage from three television courts both weeks.
The impressive roster of television talent covering the 2011 Olympus US Open Series season includes: ESPN – Chris Fowler, Patrick McEnroe, Mary Joe Fernandez, Darren Cahill, Pam Shriver, Cliff Drysdale and Brad Gilbert; Tennis Channel – Lindsay Davenport, Leif Shiras, Corina Morariu, Justin Gimelstob, Ian Eagle, Brett Haber and Ashley Fisher; and CBS Sports – Mary Carillo, Bill Macatee and Mary Joe Fernandez.
Instant replays and official reviews on television broadcasts will continue to be branded the "Chase Review," and players will once again have three challenges per set plus one additional during a tiebreaker.
Olympus US Open Series Radio powered by RadioTennis.com will provide live-audio play-by-play via the Internet from select tournaments throughout the summer.
National "Follow Me to the US Open" Fan Contest
Earlier this summer, the USTA launched the "Follow Me to the US Open" contest - designed to allow fans to actively engage and follow tennis all summer long, through the Olympus US Open Series and the US Open. Fans will accumulate points by engaging with the Olympus US Open Series and the US Open, and the fan who accumulates the most points at the conclusion of the 2011 US Open will receive a trip to the 2012 US Open and a one-hour hitting session in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The contest, developed in partnership with Omnigon Communications, will engage tennis fans via social media, online media, traditional media, on-site assets at all Olympus US Open Series events as well as in-broadcast assets to better show fans the connection between the Olympus US Open Series and the US Open.