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Marcell
Jan 10th, 2008, 02:45 PM
Stream Dream: Video Streaming Remains Out Of Reach For Many

By Lynn Mennillo Thursday, January 10, 2008

First the good news.

Up until now, Wimbledon had been the only Grand Slam event to take full advantage of live streaming, offering expanded coverage online to fans across the world at a low cost. But this week, the Australian Open joined in the excitement that new media promises for the game of tennis, enhancing fanís experience of the sport by dramatically increasing coverage of matches. The Grand Slam began advertising live streaming for the event on its website at a low pre-tournament pass price of only $15.00. Six courts will be covered ó Rod Laver Arena, Vodafone Arena, and Margaret Court Arena as well as three other courts ó for two full weeks of tennis action. Itís an avid tennis fans' dream come true.

Now for the bad news.

U.S. tennis fans wonít be able to subscribe to the expanded live streaming coverage offered by the Australian Open. Tennis Australia could not be reached for comment, but it can be assumed that the reason American tennis fans wonít share in the online broadcasts of the first Grand Slam event of the year is that ESPN360.com also will offer live streaming of the event.

Coverage on both the Australian Open and ESPN360 sites are identical. The problem for U.S. fans is that ESPN360 is currently available in only 20 million homes. Fans lucky enough to get the free ESPN360 internet service will save the Australian Openís $15 subscription fee. But due to the limited accessibility of ESPN360, chances are that most US tennis fans will be left out in the cold, unable to watch the action via live streaming on ESPN360, or the Australian Open web site.

Of course, many will argue that American fans donít need live streaming ó why would they want to watch matches on a small computer screen when they can see plenty of action on their big screen TVs? ESPN2 along with ESPN Classic and ESPN Deportes are scheduled to broadcast 137 hours of the event, featuring big name players such as Andy Roddick, the Williams sisters, James Blake, Maria Sharapova and Lindsay Davenport as well as Roger Federer, Justine Henin, and Rafael Nadal. Tennis Channel will also televise matches from this yearís Australian Open event.

But seasoned tennis fans also enjoy watching players who are less well known (or less marketable) in the U.S. ó players such as Marcos Baghdatis, Elena Dementieva, Mikhail Youzhny, or Sania Mirza. More than likely, you wonít find their matches on either ESPN2 or Tennis Channel, at least not in the early rounds.

With live streaming, a fanís viewing habits arenít dictated to them by an ESPN executive. A fan can watch whoever they want to watch, and since completed matches are archived, fans can watch matches when they want to watch them. Thatís an important feature for an event such as the Australian Open since the majority of matches are played when Americans are sound asleep due to the time difference between the U.S. and Australia.

Live streaming can play a large role in rebuilding the popularity of tennis in the U.S., but for this yearís Australian Open, live streaming will remain a dream for most American fans. Not only do fans pay a price when itís difficult to follow the sport, but ultimately the game of tennis will suffer. Left out of the expanded coverage that the rest of the world will enjoy, many fans may not bother with the hassles of trying to watch tennis from Melbourne this January. Instead they may opt out for NFL playoff action and join millions of other U.S. sports fans in anticipation of Super Bowl mania, where there is no shortage of either TV or internet coverage.


Tennis Week contributing writer Lynn Mennillo is a college professor who has watched and covered tennis for decades.

stefi62
Jan 10th, 2008, 02:52 PM
Well, livestream is not available for Europe, Australia, the USA and Canada! That's so stupid! I love Wimbledon streaming!

Serenidad.
Jan 10th, 2008, 03:18 PM
Sigh. Looks like the only GS I will watch extensively again is Wimbledon.

matty
Jan 10th, 2008, 03:35 PM
this sucks!

Serenidad.
Jan 10th, 2008, 04:32 PM
Tell me about it, but I'm used to being screwed.