Published on August 30th, 2018 | by Brad Gibson1
In the UK, Amazon’s Prime Video US Open tennis coverage a high school production train wreck
Last November, Amazon acquired a five-year, $40 million deal for exclusive rights to the U.S. Open in Great Britain. Little did anyone know that the product they would deliver to paying customers would be so poorly produced, so inadequately presented, and so carelessly streamed that it was tantamount to a high school, cable TV production.
Watching the product Wednesday via Prime Video on Apple TV in the U.K., the streaming and picture quality was poor, not to mention the production value and editorial coverage was less than professional.
While the actual video coverage of matches was acceptable – only because it was part of a pool feed provided by ESPN in the U.S. – everything else was sub-par or below.
Former players like as Jim Courier, Annabel Croft, Greg Rusedski, and Mark Petchey are the nucleus of the presentation, but have little to no cohesiveness on camera. Often the presenters say the obvious to the viewer instead of giving real, professional perspective. There seems to be little pre-production planning of what will be talked about and the in-sight of experts. There’s a reason this team of reporters and analysts are on Prime Video and not ESPN or the Tennis Channel and it shows.
But no presentation, good or bad, matters if people can’t see it through a consistently good online stream and for whatever reason this one is unreliable.
Customers paying £5.99 a month have been criticizing the coverage online saying the poor picture quality, the constantly buffering stream, no ability to record, and no ability to instantly rewind video is nowhere near what is acceptable. Many have called for the broadcasts to return to previous tennis broadcast rights holder Sky and Eurosport.
Customers online have called the coverage “shameful”, “laughable”, and “subpar”, with one saying, “my local council access channel could have done a better job.”
Of the more than 870 reviews posted online by subscribers, more than 90 percent gave Amazon just 1 to 2 stars for the streaming tennis coverage. Perhaps not coincidentally, Amazon’s ratings capability is currently suspended. Amazon told The Guardian that reviewers are not being deliberately blocked from posting and rating it’s U.S. Open coverage but that it is an IT glitch the company is trying to fix.
In response to the criticism, a spokeswoman for Amazon.co.uk said: “We are working with customers to address specific issues – we listen to all customer feedback and are always working to improve all aspects of our service.”
The backlash against its coverage is another clear sign of how non-traditional broadcasters are struggling to produce and broadcast more complicated events like live sports. Many see Amazon’s coverage as a ‘test bed’ to their planned broadcasts of Premier League football in the U.K. beginning in 2019, although there’s no indication they plan to build as complicated a production as say NBCSN or Sky Sports does and instead just re-broadcast the games produced by Premier League Productions.
If its U.S. Open coverage is any indication, Amazon has a long way to go to up their game on many fronts.