Sky Sports drops US Open coverage after 25 years

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Sky Sports will not cover the 2016 US Open after confirming it has dropped its coverage of the Grand Slam tennis tournament after 25 years.

Bringing an end to the pay-TV giant’s longest-running sports rights deal since its inception in 1991, the network has chosen not to strike a deal to broadcast live coverage of this year’s event at Flushing Meadows, with speculation from Sky insiders that the rising cost of football rights is forcing it to cut back on coverage of other sports.

Sky traditionally secured a year-by-year deal to sub-license the primary rights to the event from Eurosport, with Sky Sports airing the majority of first choice matches on its channels, while Eurosport only had limited access to live matches on the show courts.

From 2016, Eurosport will take over all live rights to the tournament for the first time, adding to the pan-European channel’s impressive portfolio of tennis rights, which now includes live coverage of all four Grand Slams.

According to the Daily Mail, Sky insiders blame the loss of US Open rights on the spiralling cost of Premier League rights, for which the network will pay £11m per match from 2016-2019, resulting in cutbacks across Sky’s other sporting output, including tennis.

However, Sky says it has struck at least 20 new rights deals since the multi-billion pound Premier League deal was signed in early 2015, including Open Championship golf and exclusive Formula 1 rights from 2019.

Sky says it remains committed to tennis via its exclusive live rights to all men’s ATP Masters 1000 events, as well as the end-of-season ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2 Arena, which it shares with the BBC.

Eurosport now has live access to all four Grand Slam tennis tournament, including exclusive coverage of the Australian Open and now the US Open, alongside shared coverage of the French Open with ITV.

Earlier this year, Eurosport also secured a deal with the BBC to screen limited coverage from Wimbledon on its channels for the first time in the UK, including daily highlights and live coverage of the men’s and women’s singles finals.

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