ESPN Star Sports Expands 2011 Australian Open Coverage

Australia's Seven will broadcast live for each of the competition's 14 days.

SYDNEY -- The Australian Open tennis tournament, the first of the four grand slams of the year, kicked off in Melbourne Monday with both the Seven Network here and ESPN Star Sports throughout Asia aiming to build on 2010’s near-record audiences, while ESPN Star Sports will be featuring a number of firsts for its tournament coverage in several markets in the region.

ESPN Star Sports said viewer interest in the tournament, particularly among young Asians is increasing, with more than 40 million viewers in Asia last year, and this year the pan-Asian broadcaster has upped its amount of live coverage.

ESPN will provide viewers in Singapore and Malaysia round-the-clock coverage on its IPTV service ESPN Player for the first time, with more than 260 live games from seven courts over 14 days of competition.

The Australian Open’s inaugural HD broadcast will be available on ESPN HD, and in Singapore tennis fans can also watch the Australian Open via live streaming on Mobile ESPN.

In 2010 viewership of the tournament increased among 15-24-year-old Malaysian males by 39%,  15-34-year-old Singaporeans by 22%, and 10-19-year-old Taiwanese by 17%. In addition 24 million, or 14%, of all Indians with cable in India watched the Open, all helped by the performance of players like doubles champion Leander Paes from India and Zheng Jia and Li Na, from China.

As it has in previous years, Australian rights holder the Seven Network will use the tournament -- which it broadcasts live each day of the 14 days and is usually the highest ratings event broadcast over the Australian summer -- to promote its new season lineup of programs that will launch at the official start of the TV ratings year on February 6.