The WTA Tour announced Wednesday that the online network Amazon has obtained exclusive rights to the WTA Tour in the U.K. and Ireland, beginning in 2020.
It is a four-year deal, included in your Amazon Prime membership (if you have one).
Amazon already has the rights for 37 ATP Tour events in a deal that began this year and runs through 2023. And it also is in the second year of a five-year deal to stream the US Open. As well, it will have the 2019 Laver Cup from Geneva, Switzerland.
Amazon also has the Next Gen Finals.
The plan is for a “minimum of 49 tournaments” in the first year of the WTA deal.
The press-release statement from Alex Green, European managing director of sport at Amazon Prime Video:
“As soon as the opportunity to bid for the women’s tennis rights became available, we couldn’t wait to bring the tournament to Prime Video, giving customers the chance to watch the best in both women’s and men’s tennis all in one place for the first time.
“We are excited to be the home of tennis and will offer viewers the most comprehensive coverage, at no extra cost to their Prime membership.”
Sky Sports outbid again
No word on what the value of the deal is. When Amazon outbid Sky Sports for the ATP Tour rights in 2017, it reportedly paid more than Sky was paying, which had been $10 million US a year.
The coverage will be available across multiple devices via the Prime Video app: televisions, game consoles, set-top boxes and connected device including Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV, mobile devices and online.
Amazon’s debut coverage of the US Open last year was the subject of a lot of complaints from the viewers. Although it got better through the fortnight. And you have to think, the more tennis it broadcasts, the better it’s going to be.
That US Open deal, reported to be worth over $40 million US, meant the coverage of the event in the U.K. went from regular cable (pay) television with Sky Sports, to becoming an exclusively online affair.
For tennis fans below a certain age, it wasn’t a big deal. But above that – and tennis audiences skew fairly … “seasoned” in terms of age – the move to online for a lot of tennis coverage is a trend that isn’t being welcomed with open arms.
But better more coverage of the game – whatever form it takes – than less.