US Open tennis ratings are down amid Naomi Osaka’s much-discussed political displays regarding police violence.
Over the first eight days of US Open coverage on ESPN, ratings are down 46 percent.
Some analysts are pointing to a scheduling overlap with NBA games, as well as a lack of big names in this year’s tournament, as the main culprits for the ratings decline.
Fans, meanwhile, are citing a different cause.
I like the tributes to healthcare workers, but the BLM being shoved down our throats with signage etc is nauseating.
Eapecially by the ingrate Osaka, who has lived virtually her entire life in US, but chooses the Japan 🇯🇵 flag to play under for marketing $$$.
— MAGA2020 (@Coaches4Trump) September 10, 2020
No Rafa or Fed plus an overload of BLM insisting on “educating viewers” with what @naomiosaka calls a genocide. That alone would have many click off TV.
— Beana (@Christi33281293) September 10, 2020
I guess they forgot to mention stepping their foot into Politics… intersectionalism rooted in identity politics IS NOT A WINNER!!! First time I’ve EVER tuned out!
— ColdBreeze (@CoolBreeze018) September 10, 2020
I have begrudgingly watched sans my beloved Rafa. I am increasingly irritated because of all the social justice messages. Why aren’t we hearing about the victim of Jacob Blake’s vicious sexual attacks & the innocent children killed by nameless criminals? It’s tough to stomach.
— Kevin Jennings – I’m all in for Trump/Pence 2020 (@mskevinjennings) September 10, 2020
The ratings decline comes at an unfortunate time for Osaka, who has been attempting to use her platform to promote social awareness regarding police shooting victims.
Over the past week, Osaka has worn masks with the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin.
Yikes Craig Sager. https://t.co/MTDwlbCVMI
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 10, 2020
Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, and Marcus Arbery, Ahmaud’s father, subsequently publicly thanked Osaka for her efforts.
Their acknowledgement nearly moved the 22-year-old to tears.
“I was just trying really hard not to cry,” she said during her post-match press conference this week.
“For me, it’s a bit surreal and it’s extremely touching that they would feel touched by what I’m doing. I feel like what I’m doing is nothing. It’s a speck of what I could be doing. So it was really emotional. I feel like after I saw it, at first I was a bit in shock, but now that I’m here and I took some time, I’m really grateful and really humbled.”
Predicting what name would next appear on one of Osaka’s masks became so common that one ESPN reporter actually got in trouble over it following an uncomfortable interview on Tuesday.
“I’ve been trying to guess what name is going to be on the mask every single day,” Rennae Stubbs awkwardly said.
“I was wrong about today. Are you going to give us a foretelling of who’s going to be in the next match?”
“No, honestly I surprise myself sometimes,” Osaka replied.
“I think I’m going to choose this but, no. For me, it’s just — I don’t know — it’s whatever I feel. I don’t know, it’s like a feeling I have inside.”
Still cannot believe that Naomi Osaka wearing the names of black people killed by police and others on her masks in order to amplify racial injustices led to this line of questioning. pic.twitter.com/K3NhBaQTzV
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) September 9, 2020
Clearly Osaka wants the most attention possible on her public displays of political messaging, so the US Open’s ratings decline is undoubtedly not what she was hoping for.
That said, as the tournament continues and the matches become increasingly more relevant, it will be interesting to see if the ratings tick upward.
Osaka’s next match is scheduled for Thursday, September 10 and will come against the No. 28 ranked Jennifer Brady.