16 May 2016

Tennis TV and Tennis Channel Plus - a tennis nerd perspective

When The Tennis Channel made its debut back in 2003, I was living in South Korea so I was not able to enjoy the early days. It wasn't until 2009 that I got a chance to see TC for the first time so when I moved back to the US in 2012 I was SO excited to finally get proper live tennis on TV and have multiple non-illegal streaming options. 

After years of watching dodgy illegal streams, I made the decision a few years ago to stop using them. Most of my decision was due to security concerns on my laptop and also irritation at the endless popup ads (and yes I've tried ad blockers to no avail) and overall poor quality of the streams. To me, a huge tennis nerd, having access to consistently reliable matches online is a must.

In early 2013 I subscribed to Tennis TV for the first time and I've been hooked every since. I have used ESPN3 intermittently (usually during slams) and in 2015 I subscribed to Tennis Channel + for a month so I had better access for French Open matches.

I've been meaning to post a blog about the tennis streaming services especially because in December 2015 I signed up for an annual Tennis Channel Plus subscription. Discussions of Tennis TV and TC+ are regular topics on my Twitter timeline and I often get into conversations about their merits.

Before I offer my views about both streaming services, here are some facts.

About me:
  • I do not own a TV. 
  • I can access Tennis Channel online due to my parents' TV subscription (but rarely do outside slams)
  • I have existing Tennis TV and Tennis Channel Plus subscriptions.
  • I can't stand ESPN coverage of tennis. I don't need the desk commentary and constant cutting in and out of matches plus you have to put up with commercial breaks. Also, I don't like the ESPN viewer - it's too small unless you maximize it on your computer and I don't like to do that. 
Things I care about:
  • Stream quality
  • Time delay of stream
  • # of available tournaments
Watching on Tennis Channel is great, but they can only show one match at a time and they rarely do a split screen (which I personally find annoying anyway). So naturally, many fans get peeved when the matches they want to see are not shown. It's a bit of a no-win situation since fans have different expectations, favorite players and preferences.

I know that many existing Tennis Channel subscribers are MAD that they don't automatically get a subscription to Tennis Channel + with their cable subscriptions. I get both sides of this argument, but since I am not a cable subscriber I don't mind paying for TC+ to supplement my tennis watching.

Tennis TV:
Per website: "TennisTV shows around 2,700 matches every year from around 100 tournaments."

What's good:
  • Live streams that start well before players come on court. You see the warm ups and all changeovers, MTOs, etc
  • NO commercial breaks
  • No desk reporting like ESPN and Tennis Channel so you actually get tennis, not extra interviews and commentary instead of live tennis
  • They usually show trophy ceremonies and on-court interviews
  • Can watch 1-4 matches at once from multiple tournaments even
  • Generally streams are in live time without any delays
  • Watch live matches on the go on the Tennis TV app (I can't think of many issues I've had using it)
  • Highlights available on the website in a pretty timely manner
  • Interviews available online in a timely manner
  • On Demand matches for seven days, finals for longer
  • Commentary is usually pretty solid (less annoying to me than most of the TC and ESPN commentary)
  • Great customer service - Tennis TV usually shows trophy ceremonies, and once they didn't include it on video replay and they ADDED it when I tweeted them about it.
What's not so good:
  • No slam coverage or Fed Cup/Davis Cup. This is strictly a WTA/ATP product.
  • Sometimes quality of the stream can be iffy.
  • Every once in awhile they have technical issues but usually not for extended lengths of time.
  • No app available for Smart TVs (but that's coming in 2017)
  • Some tourney are geoblocked but in the US it's mostly smaller ATP events which I'm okay with. Info: http://help.tennistv.com/list-of-geo-restrictions/
What's coming:
In 2017, Tennis TV has some cool changes coming per their website:
  • We will make TennisTV available on more streaming devices in January including Apple TV, Roku devices, Amazon Fire devices and Chromecast with gaming consoles and Connected TVs to follow.
  • We plan to stream more live tennis matches from the ATP World Tour and WTA and make all of these matches available as full replays throughout the entire season. On all devices. So, there will be no more 7 day window for full replays, you will be able to watch all year around.
  • You will also have the ability to create your own playlists of your favourite matches, whether from full replays, match highlights or the classic match archive.
  • The new TennisTV will also combine higher quality HD live and on-demand streams, integrated statistics & data and multi-court coverage to show up to eight courts of live tennis.
Cost: $129 per year ($10.80 per month) or $19.99/for a monthly pass or $9.99 for a day pass
Specials: In 2015 they offered 16 months for the price of 12.
Info: https://help.tennistv.com



Tennis Channel Plus
Per the Tennis Channel website: "650 live professional tennis matches including up to 5 simultaneous live court play for the first 8 days from the French Open as well as 1 court from the Australian Open for the first 8 days  as well as live matches from the ATP, WTA, Davis, Fed and Hopman Cups throughout the year. In addition, Tennis Channel Plus subscribers get On-demand access to 1000s of hours of tennis matches and original programming."

What's good:
  • During slams you can have your pick from multiple courts (not at the same time tho) instead of whatever ESPN is showing.
  • They show Fed Cup and Davis Cup (and ties which may not be shown on Tennis Channel).
  • Access matches on their Tennis Channel Everywhere app (I haven't done this too often but haven't had any issues with it)
  • No commercials -  (I think?) if you watch Tennis Channel online there are ads, but I don't believe there are if you watch on TC Plus)
  • Stream quality is higher
  • View On Demand matches (not all, but some)
  • You do not have to subscribe to Tennis Channel to get Tennis Channel Plus.
What's not so good:
  • My stream is always about 30 seconds behind real time
  • Can only watch one match at a time (versus 4 at time if you watch on Tennis TV)
  • Not available outside the US. 
  • Comcast customers have issues (Still trying to understand what they are. Seems they can't access Tennis Channel Everywhere online to use TC+ but can view on devices?)
  • Justin Gimelstob
Cost: $89.99 per year ($7.50 per month). They used to do a monthly or daily pass option but I've been told those are no longer available. Used to be $10 for a monthly pass or $5 for a day pass. (waiting for verification from Tennis Channel).
Specials: Tennis Channel + regularly offers subscription specials. I saved 20% off my subscription due to my USTA membership and I've seen many % discounts offered through Twitter.
Info: http://tennischannel.com/faq/#plus

So now what? I realize we're all different but for a tennis-obsessed person like I am, subscribing to both Tennis TV and Tennis Channel Plus is needed. I don't think either are expensive for what you get and I love being able to watch matches later in the day and like having multiple options if I don't like a commentator or if I'm having quality issues.

What have I missed? What else would you like to know about Tennis TV and/or Tennis Channel Plus?

20 comments:

  1. thank you for this! I'm just unclear on the TC+ allowance on devices. My sister and I share a TennisTV account no problem, but I worry about several devices being used simultaneously during the slams. I like to watch as many courts as possible and I've been kicked off in the past. Between my phone, tablet, 2 laptops, and desktop, I'm usually able to catch different courts w/espn3; but they no longer have the broadcasting rights to RG.

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  2. The TC+ allowance is the biggest drawback. Only one person at a time can be logged into the account. I found that out when I purchase it last year and that is why I did not renew it this year.

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  3. I'm a Comcast customer as well as TC+, though.

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    1. Oh okay - I was told you couldn't get it so that's good to know!

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    2. I'm fairly certain the issue with Comcast is that you can't use the TC Everywhere app (which I can't as a Comcast customer), which means I would have to buy a TC+ subscription/app to watch on my tablet on-the-go, which irks me, since Comcast requires I spend extra for a sports package to get TC. Comcast's fault, there, and not TC. :(

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    3. Hmm. Confusing. So if you have Tennis Channel you are not able to watch it online, so your only option is to subscribe to Tennis Channel + but you could only watch on a tablet/phone?

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    4. I have both Tennis Channel and pay for Tennis Channel Plus. Becuase of Comcast issues, I am unable to to stream Tennis Channel live on tablet/phone even though I can watch it and TC Plus on TV or throgh Roku. In other words, if you have Comcast, you cannot stream Tennis Channel live on smart phone or tablet because you have to sign in with your Comcast account and that is not allowed. So I fume if there is a match I want to watch on Ipad but it's being shown on TC Live but not TC Plus.

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  4. I signed up for TennisTV when the special came along for 16 months in 2015. In Canada Tennis Channel isn't available. While my wife and I were casual tennis fans before our current subscription, TennisTV has turned us into addicts. In the fall there is a bit of a dry spell when the tournament trails get sparse but since the Ozzy Open it's been tennis every week. For cable cutters this has been our major source of entertainment. We have to use Kodi for the slams but as soon as they're over it's back to TennisTV. I'm not sure what the name is of the gent that does the men's commentary but we have grown to love him.
    "An oil painting of a backhand!"

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    1. Either Jason Goodall or Robbie Konig. Love both of them. I am also a lover of tennis tv.

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  5. Comcast subscribers have to pay extra for TC, so to get TC+ it costs even more.

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    1. Sure everyone has to pay for TC+ but what is the extra charge on Comcast? My parents have Dish and they just have the package that includes Tennis Channel. Thanks - this is so interesting.

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  6. Tennis channel is sexist, very rarely show women's matches but will run the same men's match over and over again for days

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    1. 2017 is a bad year for coverage of women's tennis. The WTA chose BEIN Sports over TC (and Tennis TV) and TC has not had rights to any women's tennis so far this year other than Fed Cup. It's really frustrating.

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  7. TC+ is the absolute WORST! I can't even get in touch with them to get a refund! Fuzzy stream quality. Very little WTA coverage. Same matches shown for days and days and days.

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  8. I can no longer get the encore matches via the TC plus app. Even though these are clearly part of my paid subscription, TC has apparently made some changes. I can get a few via the website but far far less than with the app.

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    1. Oh that's not good. I use TC on the Apple TV app but I haven't really looked at any encore matches there in awhile?

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  9. Thank you for this discussion. I have ATT U-verse and also Apple TV. So I watch TC either as part of my U-verse tier( I get it with all the movie. Gannets-it is not part of basic cable) but I have TC+ ( on AppletV and mobile devices.

    It is a constant struggle to watch Tennis Channel on tv as part of the TCPlus based on the logging in requirements from lap top-its jyst so irritating. TC+ was irritating today- it was showing reruns on some of its "channels" as "slate" vs matches going on live st Tim! Frustrating. And what was supposed to be stadium 2 match was StFium 1. Should it be this hard to follow players. I have but a 32 " tv so split screen not too helpful for me. I have to see if Tennus TV which I once used on mobile is yet on Apple TV. In past years I was not impressed with its matches. And this whole splitting of the WTA. 🙄 I do get BeinSports w Uverse. I just hate having to program it separately. I thought tech was supposed to make things simpler?

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    1. Hi PhoebeAnn - it is a really frustrating time to watch WT.

      TC+ is only showing WTA matches during IW but for it is hard to follow their logic for 5 channels but only one that is LIVE. I don't get why they have "slate" and the whole encore of matches from days ago. I have yet to see Venus/JJ on TC+ when I have checked.

      Regarding BEIN Sports, I too have access but it's such an inferior product vs Tennis TV which was amazing. I hope BEIN improves, but then will it even matter when the WTA announces its streaming product, if that ever happens?

      I am a big support of Tennis Channel but TC+ has some issues which I hope improve.

      I also have Apple TV and yes there s a Tennis TV app there. I hope BEIN gets an apple tv app I have to stream from my phone as the web version isn't as reliable.

      Here's hoping for better - b/c this year is far too difficult. If it helps, use this new website which tracks coverage: https://tenniswatchers.com

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  10. So... I cut the cord. I have TC Plus on Roku. But it seems I'm only getting WTA matches. At this moment, the screen is showing the outside of a court and I'm listening to crowd noise - no match. Bizarre. So I was thinking I would get TennisTV to complement TC Plus. That way I have ATP and WTA. I also have DirecTV Now (online streaming) to get tennis channel but it's $50/month and I will be dropping it - I don't watch enough tv to warrant the cost. Question is: Do you think that I will get to see most matches with a combo of TennisTV and TC Plus? Thanks...

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    1. Hi there - TC+ for IW is only showing WTA, so if no ATP match is showing it just kinda sits there not showing anything. Weird.

      The TC/TC+ issue is pretty interesting/odd whatever you want to call it. Some matches shown on TC are not shown on TC+. So it may be that you still need TC from time to time. TC+ is handy for the French Open (it shows up to 5 courts I think?) and Fed Cup/Davis Cup ties. I am not finding TTV useful at all because many matches are on TC. I don't think I will be renewing TTV when my current subscription ends.

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