U.S. Open hits an early TV slump, with audience down by half in the first three days

Many of the world’s top players chose not to participate due to the risk of a coronavirus outbreak. Stars opting out include Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who’s recovering from a knee injury, as well as Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep, the two top-ranked women players. Last year’s first three days included matches by Nadal and Federer, ranked second and fourth in the world for men.

The event this year is also facing more competition for eyeballs as other sports have sought to finish their seasons later in the year. This week’s Open aired at the same time as some of the National Basketball Association playoffs.

College football, which has faced its own COVID-19-related challenges, including multiple leagues deciding not to play, kicked off last week. Separately, ESPN said it expected to air about 250 college football games this season, down from the 338 it put on TV last year, although the schedule is still being worked out.

—Bloomberg News

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