Emma Raducanu’s stunning US Open triumph achieved peak viewing figures of 9.2 million on Channel 4 – eclipsing the equivalent high from this year’s Wimbledon by over a million.
Channel 4 struck a late deal with Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service – understood to be worth a seven-figure sum – to broadcast Raducanu’s straight-sets win over fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez.
The channel reported that its coverage of the final reached a total of 12.6m viewers. Wimbledon’s peak for the 2021 Championships was 7.9m.
An 18% viewership share for the day also made it Channel 4’s most successful day since its coverage of the London Paralympics on August 29, 2012.
Channel 4’s chief content officer Ian Katz said: “We’re delighted that Channel 4, in partnership with Amazon Prime Video, could enable more than 9m people to enjoy one of the most thrilling and historic nights of British sport in a generation.”
Amazon Prime Video owned the exclusive rights to show the US Open in the UK. It has pledged to reinvest the money gained from its deal with Channel 4 into British women’s tennis to help fund the next generation of players.
Congratulations to the incredible @EmmaRaducanu on her #USOpen win last night! Prime Video UK will be reinvesting all fees from the @Channel4 agreement into British women’s tennis to support the next generation of female British talent. We can’t wait to see what they achieve. 🎾
— Amazon Prime Video UK (@primevideouk) September 12, 2021
The BBC had reached an earlier deal with Amazon to broadcast a highlights package from the final on Sunday afternoon.
However, it is understood that deal was scrapped following the development with Channel 4.
“She’s a smiling assassin, she’s ruthless in the way she goes about her tennis.”
The Queen led messages of congratulations for the US Open champion, hailing her “remarkable achievement” after she became Great Britain’s first female Grand Slam winner in 44 years.
A 6-4 6-3 win over Fernandez ensured the 18-year-old followed in the footsteps of Virginia Wade, who lifted the Wimbledon trophy in 1977.
A message from the Queen read: “I send my congratulations to you on your success in winning the United States Open Tennis Championships.
“It is a remarkable achievement at such a young age, and is testament to your hard work and dedication.
“I have no doubt your outstanding performance, and that of your opponent, Leylah Fernandez, will inspire the next generation of tennis players. I send my warmest good wishes to you and your many supporters.”
Raducanu became the first qualifier to ever win a Grand Slam and was victorious in all 20 sets she played in qualifying and the main draw at Flushing Meadows.
You're going to know her name… for a long time.
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) September 12, 2021
Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup captain Anne Keothavong described Raducanu’s victory as one of the greatest ever sporting achievements after she spent 16 months away from the tour until June while she focused on her A-levels.
“It still feels so surreal – that was just an incredible performance from Emma, and from Leylah,” she told Amazon Prime.
“A really high-quality tennis match from two teenagers, but honestly I never thought I would see a British female lift a grand slam trophy in my lifetime. I can’t put it into words how huge this is.
“This is perhaps one of the greatest sporting achievements ever. I am so happy for her and the way she has done it, to not drop a set in the whole tournament, it is not normal and is unheard of.
“She has the ability to be right up there at the top of the women’s game and dominate. Really, the future is looking more than bright.”
Her prediction was echoed by Jo Durie, the last British woman to reach the US Open singles semi-finals in 1983, who described Raducanu as “a smiling assassin”.
Durie told BBC Radio 5 Live: “It looks to me like she’s a smiling assassin, she’s ruthless in the way she goes about her tennis.”
In Numbers: Raducanu’s US Open triumph
44 – years since the previous British winner or finalist at a women’s grand slam singles tournament when Virginia Wade, a spectator in New York in recent days, won Wimbledon in 1977.
2.5million – prize money in US dollars for Raducanu’s efforts over the last fortnight, equivalent to £1.8m. Raducanu’s career earnings before this tournament stood at a combined 303,376 dollars, or around £219,000.
18 – Raducanu’s age, with just 10 weeks separating her and 19-year-old Fernandez.
150 – Raducanu’s world ranking going into the tournament.
1 – Raducanu is the first qualifier ever to reach a grand slam final.
0 – sets dropped on the way to the final, winning 18 in succession across qualifying and the main draw.