ESPN+, Discovery+ Live-Streaming U.S. Open Tennis Tournament Domestically — and Abroad

Streaming platforms ESPN+ and Discovery+ are set to begin live-streaming the biggest professional tennis tournament in the country, the U.S. Open, beginning Aug. 22, with qualifying action from Flushing Meadows, N.Y.

All four days of the Women’s and Men’s U.S. Open Qualifying tournament will stream live on ESPN+ and air on ESPN News through Aug. 25. The qualifiers feature 128 men and 128 women competing for the final 32 slots (16 men and 16 women) in the 2023 U.S. Open singles draws.  

ESPN+ will stream all matches on all 14 courts (12 courts on Friday) from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST. ESPN News will broadcast matches each day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. 

Overseas, Warner Bros. Discovery’s Discovery+ streaming service and the company’s Eurosport app will live stream 16 different match feeds, all press conferences, in addition to 234 live hours of television coverage on the Eurosport’s linear channels.

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“This year marks the first of our renewed and long-term partnership with the United States Tennis Association [USTA],” Scott Young, SVP, content and production at Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe, said in a statement.

Young said the Grand Slam season this year has produced new champions (Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz at Wimbledon), young prodigies and legends of the game creating new chapters in tennis history.

“Our role is to connect our viewers with these athletes and we look forward to telling their stories … from the first point in qualifying to match point on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sept. 10th,” Young said.

Amazon Prime Video Double-Faulting at U.S. Open Tennis Tournament?

Amazon Prime Video, unlike Netflix, isn’t adverse to streaming live sports. It is spending a reported $50 million annually for “NFL Thursday Night Football” through 2019.

The e-commerce behemoth also inked a five-year, $40 million deal to exclusively stream in the United Kingdom the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, currently taking place in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., through Sept. 9.

Amazon spared no expense for the tournament, building a TV stage and hiring veteran commentators, including former men’s champion Jim Courier, to cover the event.

But controversy quickly befell the live streams, with Prime Video subscribers turning to social media to vent their frustration about the poor picture/sound quality and lack of recording option, among other issues.

“This is just terrible. Tennis fans in the U.K. are in shock about this service,” wrote one viewer.

“This doesn’t feel like the future of live TV, blocky and jumpy and unwatchable on the Samsung Smart TV app,” wrote another.

In fact, Amazon was so inundated with complaints — about 90% of comments rated the live streams 1 or 2 stars — it suspended the comments section on Aug. 29.

“This product currently has limitations on submitting reviews. There can be a number of reasons for this, including unusual reviewing activity,” wrote Amazon.

A rep for Amazon U.K. attributed the issues to an IT problem, which the rep said was fixed by Aug.30. Amazon also reinstated the comments section.

“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,” said the rep, as reported by The Guardian.

Amazon isn’t alone among online platforms struggling to replicate linear TV sports broadcasts.

YouTube TV experienced technical issues streaming select soccer matches during the recent World Cup in Russia. Formula One was forced to issue refunds to subscribers of its nascent OTT video service following technical issues during the Spanish Grand Prix.

And DAZN, an over-the-top subscription video streaming service based in London, was forced to apologize to viewers following technical issues streaming Serie A Italian pro soccer.