Why the return of Sky Sports will provide a massive profile boost for tennis in the UK

Sky Sports tennis broadcasting deal

After months of speculation, Sky Sports has confirmed they will take over broadcasting rights for tennis in the UK and Ireland from 2024.

Amazon Prime’s decision to walk away from the sport after holding the rights to broadcast the WTA and ATP Tours over the past five years had raised concerns over what would come next for tennis on TV in Britain, which is one of the primary markets for the sport around the world.

Yet the return of Sky Sports to the tennis fold will give fans assurance that they will be able to follow tennis at an affordable price, as non-Sky Sports subscribers can still watch the action.

DETAILS OF THE SKY SPORTS DEAL

Sky has agreed five-year partnership deals with both ATP and WTA, which will see over 80 tournaments aired on the channel while more than 4,000 matches will be available on Sky Sports, NOW and WOW.

Their coverage will be led by presenter Gigi Salmon, alongside former British No 1s Tim Henman and Laura Robson, who will offer their expert analysis and insights across the two Tours, with the impressive Jonathan Overend on the match commentary. The Sky Sports team will also be joined by additional talent and co-commentators at various events across the season.

WHY THE CONCERN?

Some tennis fans expressed fears that the exit of Amazon Prime from the tennis broadcasting market will mean a huge hike in the cost of watching the sport in the UK and Ireland, but Sky has already gone a long way to erasing those concerns.

Sky Sports subscribers will be getting both tennis tours added to their package without an extra fee, with their subscription including comprehensive coverage of England’s Premier League football, golf, cricket, darts and a host of other sports.

If you are a non-Sky subscriber, you can sign up to NOW TV for a monthly package, with a package for tennis-only content another option Sky could explore to reduce costs.

An Amazon Prime subscription is £8.99-per-month, so Sky may be shrewd to consider offering a package at that price just for a ‘tennis only’ deal on NOW TV.

READ MORE: Sky Sports confirms ATP and WTA broadcast deals with over 4,000 matches available for fans every year

WHERE DID AMAZON GO WRONG?

Amazon Prime did a poor job promoting the sport in the UK and Ireland.

Finding tennis on their platform was not easy and five years into their run, too many fans were still confused about where to watch the action.

Amazon also had a frustrating habit of picking the wrong tournaments to screen, with tournaments featuring British players often unavailable to UK audiences.

In addition, they had limited interest in promoting their coverage within the tennis media and failed to engage with the small group of high-profile media who cover tennis consistently in Britain.

WHY SKY WILL BE GOOD FOR TENNIS IN THE UK AND IRELAND

Sky Sports is the best in the business when it comes to sports coverage and their team has a passion to take tennis coverage to the next level over the next five years.

Their return to the sport at the US Open offered a polished service that featured red button options to watch multiple matches and that service will be available once again when they take over coverage of all events in 2024.

Sky’s tactical analysis of sport is second to none, with their football coverage bringing viewers a depth of understanding that has inspired a generation of viewers into tactical experts.

The sparkling new studio Sky Sports built for their US Open coverage in September highlighted a snapshot of what they could bring to tennis, with Henman emerging as a polished broadcaster who offers astute tactical insight.

In addition, the 24-hour rolling Sky Sports News channel will offer comprehensive coverage of tennis results, interviews and previews, ensuring the sport is pushed to a huge audience on an hourly basis.

VERDICT

Sky may need to embrace the tennis audience in the UK and Ireland with a financial offer that will allow them to watch the sport for a similar price to the current Amazon Prime deal and if they do that, it will remove the big concerns that have been expressed.

They should also look into the possibility of giving fans the option to watch matches on demand, both while they are taking place or after they have finished.

Pausing matches and resuming them at your convenience was another nice feature of the Amazon coverage that could be introduced on the NOW streaming service.

Yet even if some of these options are not instantly available when Sky Sports starts their coverage of the WTA and ATP Tours in February 2024, fans can look forward to much more than they were getting from Amazon.

Studio analysis is crucial to tennis coverage and too many events on Amazon featured just a live world feed and commentary with no studio presence to take the viewers to the next level.

Sky Sports will ensure that each match is given the coverage it merits and tennis fans in the UK and Ireland should be excited about what is coming their way over the next five years.

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