Amazon has moved further into live sports in Britain with the acquisition of rights to show women’s tennis. The e-commerce giant’s Prime Video unit already has rights to stream the major men’s tournaments and the U.S. and Australian Opens in the U.K. and Ireland.
In a four-year deal with the Women’s Tennis Assn. starting in 2020, Amazon will show at least 49 women’s tournaments, including the high-level contests in Indian Wells (California), Miami, Madrid and Beijing, plus the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China. That translates to about 2,000 matches that will be available live and on catchup to Prime subscribers in the British Isles.
“As soon as the opportunity to bid for the women’s tennis rights became available, we couldn’t wait to bring the tournament to Prime Video, giving customers the chance to watch the best in both women’s and men’s tennis all in one place for the first time,” Alex Green, Amazon Prime Video’s European managing director of sports, said in a statement Wednesday. “We are excited to be the home of tennis and will offer viewers the most comprehensive coverage, at no extra cost to their Prime membership.”
Two years ago, Amazon outbid pay-TV giant Sky for British rights to 37 men’s tour events run by the Assn. of Tennis Professionals. That deal includes all the Masters-level tournaments, which are one rung below the prestigious four Grand Slam contests: the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open.
In April 2018, Amazon announced that it had also secured streaming British rights to the Australian and U.S. Opens – in which both male and female players compete – in a five-year deal worth $40 million. However, its coverage during the U.S. Open’s first few days last August drew a torrent of complaints from viewers over picture and sound quality and the inability to watch replays of completed matches. The coverage has since improved.
With the new WTA deal, fans of Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Maria Sharapova and other top female players can “watch the best in women’s and men’s tennis all in one place for the first time in the U.K.,” Amazon said.
Added Micky Lawler, the president of the WTA: “We are thrilled that Amazon Prime Video will offer the best of women’s tennis and showcase our premium events and world-class players to millions of fans across the U.K. and Ireland. We have been so impressed by their vision for our sport and are confident the Prime Video team will be a great partner of the WTA.”
Besides tennis, Amazon has won rights to show some English Premier League soccer matches.