A common question I get asked here on the blog, on live chat during matches and via Twitter is “How can I watch?” or “Do you have a stream for the Fed match?” So with that in mind, I thought I'd put together a quick post outlining some of the options for watching tennis online. I'll look at the pros and cons of each, the costs involved and steps involved for watching. So read on…
What options are there for streaming tennis?
- WTA TV
- Eurosport Player
- Free Streams
- VPN combined with domestic broadcasters (or paid services) that are usually Geo IP restricted
- Amazon Prime (from 2019)
Most of you will have heard of this one, it's the official streaming partner of the ATP and streams the vast majority of ATP matches at 250, 500 and 1000 level. Up until 2016, they had the WTA matches but for one reason or another TennisTV went solely ATP.
At the time of writing TennisTV is priced at £79.99 for a 1-year pass and if you're a real avid tennis watcher it's pretty good value for money. You can also watch on desktop and mobile via their iPhone or Android apps. As per their terms you can also stream via two devices simultaneously, so the possibility of going 50/50 with a friend is also there if you follow different players/tournaments.
- Good quality streams
- Good commentary team
- Virtually every match at ATP level
- Can be accessed on mobile devices for streaming on the go
- £79.99 a year so not the best value if you only plan to watch the odd match
- Can sometimes be a little buggy with outages during matches
- The mobile apps aren't the most reliable
- Occasionally has Geo restrictions or conflicts with broadcasters who want exclusive rights
- No Grand Slam matches
Thoughts on Tennis TV
I was a paying subscriber up until Miami this year when it expired and I probably watched every single one of Federer's matches at ATP level via the service for the last 2 years.
The only reason I'm yet to renew is I knew that Roger would likely skip Monte Carlo, Rome, Madrid and Montreal so it didn't make much sense to pay for 4 months when it would get zero use. I also knew of some other options (the one I currently use is explained below in the VPN section) for watching so it's currently on ice. Chances are I'll be back signed up for Cincinnati but we shall see.
New for 2017 is WTA TV which is essentially Tennis TV but for the women's tour. Up until 2016, TennisTV showed WTA matches as well but they're now independent.
At the time of writing WTA TV is priced at £58.60 for a 1-year pass. You can also watch on desktop and mobile via their iPhone or Android apps.
- Good quality streams
- Virtually every match at WTA level
- Can be accessed on mobile devices for streaming on the go
- I've not used it to know the limitations.
Thoughts on WTA TV
I don't really watch women's tennis so this isn't a service I've used.Visit the WTA TV Website
This is another paid service from the pan-European television sports network, Eurosport. I signed up for Eurosport in January for the Australian Open (the special offer was £20 for the year) and I've been very happy with the service.
So far this year I've used it to watch the Australian Open, French Open, Stuttgart, Halle, Wimbledon and the odd bit of Alpine Skiing. I've found the service reliable with great 720p quality streaming and that's why Eurosport has been my go to site for watching tennis this year.
- High-quality streams
- Covers the Aus Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open
- Good coverage of ATP tennis too
- Plenty other sports covered including Cycling and Skiing
- Affordable pricing plans
- Can buy monthly or yearly passes
- Can have Geo restrictions (but you can work around it with a VPN)
- Occasionally lags but this more to do with your internet connection
- Doesn't cover every ATP tournament
Thoughts on Eurosport Player
Eurosport Player is currently the service I'm using most often for streaming tennis. Technically I'm signed up to the UK Eurosport player, but when you combine this with a VPN which I'll explain in the VPN section below you can watch a lot more coverage.
This is how I was able to watch Halle without the need for TennisTV, I simply routed my traffic through a German server and used the .de version of Eurosport player. That gave me full access to Halle albeit with German commentary.
Bet365 is one of the few betting sites that live stream tennis for free via their website. From what I gather they're tapping into the same broadcaster as TennisTV so you can watch virtually every ATP match via their live streaming window. It also works on mobiles too via their mobile site.
Any catches? Just two. The first is to get access to live streaming you need a funded account. So you do need to sign up and deposit. There's no obligation to bet though, so all I ever did was deposit £5 and leave it. My balance is now at £0.10 though so you can guess what happened there 😀
The other catch is that the streaming window is quite small. There's no full-screen option and the picture quality is just ok. However, for ‘free' you can't really complain.
- Effectively free
- Virtually all ATP Matches
- Lots of other live sports streamed too including Football, Snooker, Darts and Basketball
- Requires you to create an account and deposit
- Only a small window for the stream
- Often no commentary
Thoughts on Bet365 Live Tennis Streaming
When I first started peRFect Tennis I used Bet365 to watch basically all Fed's matches outside of slams that I couldn't access via a domestic broadcaster here in the UK. Even now it's my backup choice for a stream if the other options I'm using aren't working.
Probably the most popular choice for the casual fan is the use of free streams. There are hundreds of websites offering streams for every sport you can imagine and I've used them countless times over the years. Strictly speaking, I'm sure they fall under the illegal category but it's nigh on impossible to police so whilst I won't recommend their use, I'm not going to say don't do it either 😉
- Completely free
- Most free streaming sites have all the matches available at every level of tennis
- Not the best picture quality
- Often laggy
- Full of popups, popunders and intrusive ads
- Potential for malware if you click the wrong buttons
Thoughts on Free Streaming for Tennis
If you only watch a couple of matches a year, don't have the funds to justify paying for a service or just hate to part with your hard earned cash then free streams are probably the way to go. I've used them a few times for Federer matches but to maintain the blog I actually need to be able to see the ball and not have it stopping/starting every 5 mins like you inevitably get with these types of services.
So for me they're just used as a backup and if every other option is exhausted. I won't recommend any specific sites here as the problem is they change all the time as they're usually just trying to stay one step ahead of the broadcasters who want them shut down. So don't be surprised if you see your favourite streaming site move from a .com, to a .live to a .tv domain all within a year.
I'd also say If you're not the most tech savvy person out there then be careful using these sites. They're designed to make you click on adverts or download software that you don't need as that's how they're funded. So you need to be quick at closing popups and knowing what to look for when it comes to clicking the real play button and not the one that takes you elsewhere.
VPN (Virtual Private Network) – My Current Choice for Streaming Tennis
Strictly speaking, a VPN has zero to do with streaming tennis matches. But it does open up the possibility for doing so.
A VPN is a secure, encrypted connection, which is a bit like a tunnel, between your computer and a server (based in various locations across across the world) operated by the VPN service.
I use a VPN in conjunction with Eurosportplayer and domestic broadcasters if I need access to something they're only showing in a specific country.
This year I watched Halle on the German version of Eurosport and Wimbledon on the BBC. Last year I watched some of Basel via SRF using a Swiss server and it's made finding good coverage a whole lot easier.
Even when there's no tennis on, I'm probably using a VPN most days when browsing and need to access a website that restricts you geographically. Or if I need to see what a version of a site looks like if I'm browsing from outside the region it operates in.
- Opens up the possibility of watching Tennis via domestic broadcasters that usually offer good quality coverage – SRF, Channel 7, ESPN, BBC etc.
- Added layer of privacy/security
- More affordable when compared to TV or streaming subscriptions
- Not always the quickest connection – depends on the service you're using and how heavily trafficked their servers are
- Speed can also depend on how far you are geographically from the server you are connected to
- Requires installing software or app on your phone
Thoughts on using a VPN
I'll be using a VPN to watch this year's US Open and no doubt some of the indoor events later in the year. The other added benefit is that a VPN gives an added layer of privacy to your browsing. Most people aren't really concerned with that but if you value your privacy (i.e don't like your ISP tracking your activity and selling your browsing history to a third party) then you might want to consider it. With a VPN even if your traffic is intercepted at the packet level, whoever is looking can only see encrypted data.
Using one is simple too – run the program, pick your server (eg. if you want to watch SRF in Switzerland but are currently in Poland, pick a Swiss server), connect, then load up the SRF website and stream away.
Which VPN should you use?
I would personally avoid any of the free VPN's like Hola Unblocker, Tunnelbear etc. as they're usually selling your traffic (or at worst hijacking your connection to be used at a botnet) and aren't adhering to some of the better practices within this industry.
My VPN of choice at the moment is NordVPN. It's been reliable, has a lot of servers across the world and is competitively priced (around $12 per month or $70 for the year but they often run promotions) Their overall business practices are a little more robust than some of the other players too.
I try to avoid any service that is based in a Five Eyes country where they're forced to keep logs etc. Again this likely won't bother the casual user, but if you want added privacy I currently recommend, and personally use NordVPN, IVPN or Mullvad for this reason.
Amazon Prime (From 2019)
A few days after I published this post, Amazon announced they'd won the rights to show all matches from ATP World Tour from 2019. They won the rights from Sky who are paying through the nose for Premier League coverage so fringe sports like Tennis now take a back seat. Amazon’s deal covers all Masters 1000 and Masters 500 tournaments. So it's going to be a huge killer for TennisTV here based on pricing and availability.
- Covers all Masters 1000's and 500's
- Affordable pricing (£7.99 a month)
- Gets you all the other Amazon Prime perks.
Thoughts on Amazon Prime
I'll update this once it launched and I've tested it out!
So there you have it, the 6 ways you can watch tennis online. I don't think I've missed any out (perhaps some of you guys based elsewhere in the world have other options if so let me know so I can add them in).
Maybe some of you live in countries where free to air broadcasters show lots of tennis as well? That's sadly not the case in the UK with only Wimbledon and some French Open being free to air. Or maybe you have a ton of restrictions as to what you can access online where you live? If you do then I'd like to know.
Which options should you go for?
I would say:
- If you're only wanting to stream ATP matches (not Grand Slams). Then go for TennisTV or Amazon Prime (from the 2019 season)
- If you only need a stream for the Grand Slams. Go for Eurosport Player
- If you want the Grand Slams & ATP, get Tennis TV and Eurosport player together
- If you want to be able to watch The Tennis Channel, domestic tennis broadcasts etc then go with NordVPN