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By Nick Georgandis

Sources close to the issue are reporting that ESPN is close to acquiring the television broadcast rights to the US Open, which has been a staple on CBS since the Open Era began in 1968.

It is a somewhat surprising move given ESPN's hardcore commitment to college football and baseball during the timeframe (late August, early September) when the US Open takes place.

According to sources, ESPN would show earlier rounds on its various networks as well as streaming them live online. However, the deal would include all four singles semifinals and two singles finals on ESPN's main network.

The move could have both positive and negative effects for the event. Although they are an ever-dwindling minority, as of 2012, 37% of all Americans did not have cable television service. Although some of that 37% likely uses an Internet connection to watch television programming, that is still more than one-third of the potential audience which, come 2015, will not be able to turn on its television set and watch the final matches of the US Open.

This is the same sort of gamble that ESPN took when it bought the rights to Monday Night Football, which had been a traditional ABC program. Although both ESPN and ABC are owned by the same parent company - Disney - ratings for the event have dropped significantly since it moved off broadcast TV.

Although Monday Night Football remains the most-watched show on television, its ratings dipped to a four-year low in 2012.

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