Emma Raducanu’s US Open win serves up audience of 9.2m for C4

Broadcaster enjoys strong viewing figures after last-minute deal with Amazon to allow UK viewers to watch final for free

Channel 4’s bold decision to snap up the rights to show the US Open final has proved to be an enormous success, with a peak audience of 9.2 million Britons tuning in to watch the moment of Emma Raducanu’s triumph.

The broadcaster pulled off an unexpected last-minute deal to show the tennis match, paying Amazon a seven-figure sum to put the streaming company’s broadcast on free-to-air television. Its coup came as a surprise to the BBC, who had originally planned to show a highlights programme but was outmanoeuvred.

With the deal, Amazon also avoided the negative publicity endured by pay-TV streamer Discovery after it put many of this summer’s Olympic events behind a paywall.

Although Channel 4 was delighted with the audience, the real value could be in the broadcaster showing it is willing to make bold decisions to prove its worth as a public service broadcaster.

Channel 4’s chief content officer, Ian Katz, said on Sunday: “Moments like this are what Channel 4 was made for – it’s a perfect example of the kind of nimble, uncommercial, but profoundly valuable public service broadcasting that a purpose-driven Channel 4 can deliver.”

The broadcaster is going all-out in its fight against government plans to privatise the outlet. A consultation on the changes closes on Tuesday.

The culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, who will help decide on the channel’s future, tweeted his delight after Channel 4 secured the rights for the tennis final.

The viewing figures also show that even with the growing popularity of streaming – about half the UK has access to Amazon Prime Video – traditional linear television channels can still deliver enormous audiences, especially for major sporting events.

The real viewing figures for the final are likely to be even higher, given that many people will have watched on Amazon Prime.

Amazon paid about £30m in 2018 for the UK rights the US Open, in a bid to drive customers to its Prime subscription service. In addition to the sublicensing fee – which Amazon will donate to grassroots tennis initiatives – the company gained enormous brand exposure and had its logo shown on Channel 4 for three hours.

Contributor

Jim Waterson Media editor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Channel 4 buys rights to Emma Raducanu’s US Open final
The state-owned broadcaster stepped in to serve up a deal that allowed UK viewers to watch the British tennis star for free

Vanessa Thorpe

12, Sep, 2021 @5:35 AM

Article image
Emma Raducanu’s US Open heroics inspire young British players
New star of British tennis has long been looked up to by talents such as 14-year-old Lois Newberry

Kevin Rawlinson

09, Sep, 2021 @5:33 PM

Article image
Emma Raducanu’s US Open final to be shown free-to-air in UK on Channel 4
Channel 4 have struck a late deal with Amazon Prime to show Emma Raducanu’s US Open final against Leylah Fernandez live on free-to-air terrestrial TV in the UK

Clea Skopeliti

11, Sep, 2021 @8:21 AM

Article image
How Emma Raducanu’s team combined to steer her to US Open final | Tumaini Carayol
The ‘calming influence’ of coach Andrew Richardson, her physio, agent and LTA heads of tennis have all lent support

Tumaini Carayol

10, Sep, 2021 @8:34 PM

Article image
A-level student to US Open champion: Emma Raducanu’s journey to the top
Tennis star says her calmness and mental strength were instilled in her by her parents

Simon Cambers

12, Sep, 2021 @4:01 PM

Article image
‘Such a big inspiration’: Emma Raducanu praises Tim Henman
US Open winner credits her support team and says former British No 1 gave her belief and focus

Robyn Vinter

12, Sep, 2021 @2:38 PM

Article image
Raducanu set for global media stardom, say UK marketing experts
Tennis star has the right ingredients to attract billion-dollar sponsorship – but must keep winning

Mark Sweney and Caroline Davies

10, Sep, 2021 @3:27 PM

Article image
Emma Raducanu’s US Open win was a glorious aligning of the fates | Jonathan Liew
Emma Raducanu’s victory came out of nowhere so it needs perspective – we cannot expect her to keep doing this in majors

Jonathan Liew

12, Sep, 2021 @4:39 PM

Article image
‘This girl means serious business’: the making of Emma Raducanu
Even from a young age, those around the latest British tennis star suspected she had something special

Tumaini Carayol

10, Sep, 2021 @7:00 PM

Article image
Emma Raducanu plays Duchess of Cambridge in homecoming event
Tennis queen trades forehands with duchess at friendly event to celebrate Raducanu’s US Open Victory

Sean Ingle Chief sports reporter

24, Sep, 2021 @3:57 PM