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#IHaveQuestions: Why Is It So Hard To Watch Tennis?

Fans of tennis want to be able to watch it. This is an objective fact.

Whether it is on their televisions, computers, tablets, or phones, it doesn’t matter: people just want to watch the sport that they love. As proven by the continued existence of Tennis TV, they will also pay to watch tennis — if it means they are able to obtain increased access to matches.

To be sure, this isn’t just at the Grand Slam level. You’ll find no shortage of fans — from countries around the world — willing to write out a check to watch lower tier events on both the WTA and ATP Tours.

Possibly most revealing is the ATP’s partnership with IMG to use Livestream to broadcast multiple courts at Challenger events around the world each week. Such a connection wouldn’t have been struck had the ATP didn’t feel people would actually sit down and watch the matches. And they do.

Here’s another fact: people who watch tennis want it to be easy. But the unfortunate reality is that watching tennis has become nothing short of an agonizing chore.

Let me give you my experience.

During the French Open, matches here have been split stateside, between ESPN2 and Tennis Channel. From 5 a.m-10 a.m. ET., ESPN2 has the rights to broadcast Roland Garros. From 10 a.m. ET and on, Tennis Channel takes over. During that first five hour time frame, ESPN3 — ESPN’s “online streaming service” — will show matches from Philippe Chatrier, Suzanne Lenglen, Court 1, Court 2 and Court 7. ESPN3 is technically free, but you have to have a cable subscription that is within ESPN3’s coverage realm.

But after 10 a.m. ET, not only does ESPN2 stop showing matches, but ESPN3 halts its coverage of all but one court.

If you don’t have Tennis Channel, you’re not of luck. Tennis Channel can be accessed online, granted you have one of the TV providers that allows you to access it. All those with Comcast are left out in the cold.

You can always go online and get Tennis Channel Plus, Tennis Channel’s equivalent of ESPN3. At a rate of $11.99/month or $79.99/year, Tennis Channel Plus provides its subscribers with a select amount of courts at various tournaments, including the French Open.

If I want to watch matches on my television, I am essentially stuck with the so-called “marquee” matches of the day — aka the matches that contain all the big name players. Regardless of how one-sided a Novak Djokovic match is, ESPN2 and Tennis Channel will stick with it to the very end, occasionally showing other matches at important stages.

You could sit there from 5 a.m.-3 p.m. and realistically only see four to five matches in length. It’s absurd and annoying.

To make matters worse, the online streams — particularly ESPN3’s — are well behind the actual live match. If you want to check the live scores or Twitter, do so at your own risk, because you’re bound to find a spoiler. Just this morning, I was watching the end of Kuznetsova-Schiavone epic. I went to check other scores and found that Schiavone had broken to win.

My stream was an entire game behind.

This is hardly a French Open-specific issue; delays and lags are things that has been going on for years. You’d imagine the Worldwide Leader in Sports could do something to rectify this problem, one that will only become more problematic as social media continues to eclipse “live” video in information dissemination.

My hope is that the intermittent, non-inclusive, and limited coverage of tennis improves in the future. It’s doing nothing for the game, and it spreads the unfortunate message that the almighty dollar takes precedence over all else. Unless something changes, we will continue to be frustrated by the coverage of the game, the complaining will not stop and, worst of all, potential new fans will be harder and harder to come by.

The ball is in your court, networks.

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About Nick Nemeroff (66 Articles)
21-year-old NYU student. Passionate about playing tennis, coaching tennis, and writing about tennis. Feel free to contact me at any time!

10 Comments on #IHaveQuestions: Why Is It So Hard To Watch Tennis?

  1. Thanks for bringing up this issue as it is one faced by people all across the world. In India for example outside the slams the only WTA matches we get on tv are the big tournament knockout matches , I still have no idea why they would not have the brodcasters show the first few rounds. Also our only participation happens in doubles and yet not a single doubles match is shown on tv , we currently have a doubles world no.1 from our country but no kid gets to watch her play and believe me it’s not because of lack of interest.In the end if you want the sport to prosper across the world then make it available in it’s full to everyone

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  2. Jane Voigt // May 29, 2015 at 7:25 am // Reply

    Always looking for a way to cut cable expenses, I was thrilled when Tennis Channel Plus debuted. However, I discovered that in order to successfully watch matches through that app I had to also have a cable subscription to Tennis Channel. Economists are correct … ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch.’ Finally, profit from ad revenue will continue to be of more import until an enlightened producer, one who is not afraid of risk, steps beyond the boundary of the ordinary thought that singles is the only game worth broadcasting. Doubles is the most popular game amongst day-in-and-day-out players.

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  3. mike cahill // June 1, 2015 at 1:26 pm // Reply

    I finally gave up my subscription to the Tennis Channel on TV. The reason is the yelling and grunting of the players, especially the women. I have tried to mute the matches but you just can’t get into it without volume, for the game and commentary. Eliminate the yelling and grunting or tennis on TV and in person is just going to kill the sport. The sport which I love more than any other sport.

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  4. I was watching a match between Ivonavic and Kuznetsova on the Tennis Channel plus this morning, and just as the first set was near completion, the video suddenly disappeared and a still screen appears stating that live matches will resume tomorrow at 12:30am! I thought I was watching a live match on their TC Plus channel, and really do not know what happened. No explanation was given. I do not mind paying for Tennis Channel Plus, but feel the programming has many technical and operational flaws, that portray an unprofessional organization. For example, in their in their on demand line up of matches for ATP, WTA, French, Wimbleton…etc, their are several men’s matches listed amongst the WTA category of matches. Also, I noticed on several occasions when I selected a specific recorded match to watch in the On Demand category, a video of a completely different match with different opponents would be shown instead of the one I selected. I do not understand how difficult is to correctly organize their catalog of matches. I am a very frustrated subscriber to Tennis Channel Plus. They need to get their act together.

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  5. I would like to know why tennis channel never show matches where djokvic or Serena loses. Do they pay for them not to be shown?

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  6. Why doesn’t tennis channel reshow matches when djokvic loses, like Rome final 2016?

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  7. I would like to know why tennis channel doesn’t show rematches of djokvic matches when he loses? They are not on you tube either, only his wins. Does he pay for them not to be shown?

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  8. Peter Duquemn // May 27, 2016 at 12:21 pm // Reply

    Tennis Channel shows little to no integrity, and I booted them out a while ago… my position is an always will be that if they receive ad dollars and I am forced to put up with ads, I will NOT ever pay them a dime…nor pay any other cable company either. They can work a bit harder and give people good value for a change…maybe then I will pay them once again.

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  9. Candace Douglas // February 20, 2017 at 11:05 am // Reply

    I am completely frustrated by my inability to watch The Tennis Channel. They only utilize few cable companies- I used to have Comcast- but now it seems they’ve dropped that company also. I tried signing in on my IPAD utilizing Verizon- which I have an account with- yet it sent me in cyber circles. Worst of all, they do not have a phone number at which you can talk to a LIVE VOICE!! Only communication is online and is not helpful at all. TENNIS CHANNEL DO YOU WANT TO GO BROKE BECAUSE YOU CAN’t provide service to Tennis fans??

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  1. Why Isn’t Tennis On TV? – Tennis Buffet

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