Amazon has been flooded with so many complaints about its coverage of the US Open it has stopped disgruntled tennis fans from posting more bad reviews.
Amazon’s $40m five-year deal to broadcast the US Open to UK and Ireland tennis fans – its first exclusive broadcast of a sports event – was meant to showcase the Silicon Valley giant’s streaming prowess and prove it can match traditional broadcasters and become a credible home for live sport.
The company, which has successfully streamed NFL matches in the US, has pulled out all the stops, including setting up its own studio at Flushing Meadows and drafting in former players such as Jim Courier, Greg Rusedski, Annabel Croft and Mark Petchey.
However, the internet giant has been inundated with complaints about a host of problems including the picture and sound quality of its streaming service and an inability to record or rewind matches. Almost 90 per cent of the 650 reviews posted by subscribers to its €6.99 Prime Video service, home to its US Open coverage, gave Amazon just 1 or 2 stars.
“There is no replay option, no ability to record [and]the picture quality is very poor,” said one unhappy tennis fan. “It’s like going back in time 25 years.”
Others urged Amazon to “give tennis back to Sky and Eurosport”, which both used to broadcast the US Open in the UK and Ireland before Amazon snapped up the exclusive rights.
“Hopeless doesn’t describe it,” said another. “A complete embarrassment.”
Bad reviews of Amazon’s separate highlights service reached such a level – 96 per cent awarded just 1 or 2 star ratings – that no more reviews are being allowed to be posted about the service. Those trying to post a new review are met with the message: “This product currently has limitations on submitting reviews. There can be a number of reasons for this, including unusual reviewing activity.”
The backlash against its coverage demonstrates the steep learning curve Amazon is facing as it prepares to take on exclusive UK and Ireland coverage of the ATP men’s tennis tour and a high-profile deal to be the first streaming company to exclusively air Premier League matches next year.
Streaming companies have developed a tarnished reputation in the live sport arena. During the World Cup, YouTube’s $35-a-month subscription service in the US suffered an embarrassing outage during England’s semi-final clash with Croatia.
In Australia, streamer Optus, which held exclusive World Cup rights, had to allow the public broadcaster SBS to air games after its service failed.
In May, Formula One refunded subscribers after its new streaming service ran into trouble during the Spanish Grand Prix. And last month DAZN, the streaming service controlled by Len Blavatnik, the Warner Music owner, apologised to customers after its first attempt at delivering Serie A Italian football coverage failed during the opening game of the season.