There’s something comforting about tennis coverage. Whichever channel you turn to there’s a reasonable chance that you’ll get the same presenters and commentary team.
And so it was when I switched on to Amazon’s coverage of the US Open. Previously the event had been split between Sky and Eurosport, with the Discovery-owned channel taking last year’s event exclusively.
Immediately my commentators on Andy Murray’s second round match against Fernando Verdasco were familiar from previous years. Mark Petchey was sat alongside Greg Rusedski. We had a new excellent anchor in Catherine Whitaker, who has previously worked for Eurosport, beIN Sport and IMG Media, but as far as the production was concerned business as usual.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing. When I first navigated on my Apple TV box to the Amazon app I was confronted with a wall of Amazon-US Open logos. Which one do I choose? The description referring to individual courts and commentary from “our tennis experts”. If was Rusedski’s agent I’d be having a word.
The picture quality was questionable. This wasn’t the HD I had watched on Sky and Eurosport and seemed to be missing a frame from time to time. Other broadcast channels, such as BT, don’t have these issues when streaming.
And when the commentators told me I could see what was happening on other courts I was of course tempted. But I then lost the coverage for 30 seconds while I navigated from one to another.
Online criticism has been overblown, pausing the action for your own “comfort break” is fine, but there are no highlights or the text screens we’ve come to expect.
And of course when I fancied an early night Amazon Prime wasn’t available on my bedroom TV.
Amazon clearly has work to do before it begins its coverage of the Premier League next year.
Watching via an app, be it on the TV or a mobile device, is always going to be a different experience. But remember we’re told this is the future of our industry.
In switching from vinyl to .mp3s we’ve swapped quality for convenience. But as we know, sales of vinyl are increasing.