Within the last week there have been two huge announcements in the world of tennis broadcasting, and fans in the UK will have to make some big decisions about how they are going to watch tennis in the next couple of years.
On Thursday, the WTA and its broadcast partner Perform Group launched WTA TV and today it was revealed that Amazon have the UK TV rights to the ATP World Tour from 2019.
Since WTA pulled out of Tennis TV in October 2017, there has been no online streaming of WTA tournaments around the world. Since then, BT Sport has been the only option for British fans of the WTA Tour.
That was until WTA TV started streaming live matches last week on its website. There’s been no big launch yet but for £7.81 per month or £58.60 per year you can already watch multiple matches from different courts and tournaments at once, with rewind and replay options.
Initial feedback has been very positive, and the few people who have told me they have signed up have so far been impressed with the coverage. There’s no mobile app yet but I understand one is in the works.
BT Sport will continue to have the broadcast rights for the WTA. A BT Sport subscription includes coverage of other sports and entertainment channel AMC, so if you are also interested in those things it may be worth the extra money, at between £22 and £28 a month via Sky or as part of a BT broadband package.
Unfortunately, BT Sport don’t show every WTA match they could. Very rarely do BT have two matches from the same tournament simultaneously, when a British player is on an outside court. They are restricted by what the WTA provides them on the world feed for some tournaments. I have heard that BT is going to up its game once again in 2018, which it will need to do to compete with WTA TV for tennis fans
Meanwhile, over on the ATP side of things, Sky Sports’ rights to screen ATP Masters 1000s and 500s events have been up in the air for sometime, as they were due for renewal next year.
There had been rumours that Amazon was among those interested in taking those rights for, and today it was reported that Sky had been outbid and 2018 will be their last ATP season. No surprises – Sky’s interest in tennis has been clearly waning since they handed back their US Open rights to Eurosport at the end of 2015.
Sky rebranded their sports channels last month and with dedicated channels for football, cricket, golf and Formula 1, it’s clear where their focus is. If you want to watch ATP tennis alongside those, it will cost you more from the end of next year.
Details of the new service from Amazon are still sketchy. It’s not yet known exactly how their coverage will be compiled. Live tennis will be part of Amazon Video, which currently costs £5.99 a month on its own or as part of Amazon Prime for £7.99 per month or £79 for the year.
Tennis TV is the ATP’s streaming service which has been running for a number of years. Crucially it also includes coverage of ATP 250 events, many of which are not shown anywhere else, and aren’t in the current Sky or future Amazon deal. Tennis TV is currently £9.99 per month or £89.99 for a year.
Grand Slams aren’t included in any of the four packages mentioned above. Wimbledon is on the BBC, while the Australian, French and US Opens are brilliantly covered by Eurosport, with multi-court coverage alongside Eurosport 1 and 2 on Eurosport Player. At the time of writing this is currently £6.99 or £29.99 for a year.
Eurosport currently shows some ATP 250s and a number of WTA Internationals that aren’t on BT Sport. Eurosport also had the British grass court season alongside the BBC who extended their Eastbourne and Queen’s contracts to 2024.
ITV has secondary rights to the French Open. It’s also been reported that a new channel called FreeSports, launching at the end of this morning, will be covering tennis but there has been no further information on exactly what will be shown.
With WTA TV and Tennis TV – and Amazon in 2019 – you’ll need a device such as Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV Stick to watch streaming services on your telly.