It is time to discuss tennis coverage in Australia.
When it comes to their interests, the younger generation has a plethora of sports to choose from. For the duration of their seasons, the Australian Football League (AFL) and National Rugby League (NRL) are broadcast on free-to-air television in millions of Australian homes. Even football (or soccer, depending on who you ask) has benefited from the recent World Cup runs of the Matildas at home and the recent Socceroos campaign as well.
Given the widespread coverage of these games at the highest levels, it begs the question: how did tennis fall so far behind?
Answer: Tennis broadcasting in Australia is currently a complete and utter disaster, which is concerning for anyone who is passionate about the sport.
Do you want to watch tennis on free-to-air television? During the January period when the tennis tour visits Australia for the lead-up and running of the Australian Open, you can watch selected courts on free-to-air television. In recent years, we’ve seen Ash Barty, Nick Kyrgios, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Dylan Alcott, Matthew Ebden, Max Purcell, Jason Kubler, and Rinky Hijikata compete in Australian Open finals. Every year, the season begins in Australia, and it serves as a great springboard for building momentum for the upcoming season.
With Barty retiring and Kyrgios injured, it appears that those at the top of the organisation have almost given up on getting the sport in front of the eyes of Australians for the rest of the year.
Channel 9 broadcasts free-to-air coverage of Australian tennis and the grand slams, and that’s about it. Stan has joined the party and provided coverage of the same tournaments through their subscription, with sport a $15/month package on top of their regular $10 and $16 per month subscriptions.
Last month, beIN SPORTS channels were removed from Foxtel and Kayo subscriptions, leaving 4.53 million Australian subscribers without a major way to watch Novak Djokovic vs Carlos Alcaraz play one of the season’s first matches earlier this week.
Was the game covered in the Australian media? Yes, but it was glossed over in nightly sports reports, and comedy shows used it to air stale re-runs of Novak Djokovic vaccination jokes.
Unfortunately, the real joke in this country is the coverage of tennis, and it is disappointing that it has reached this point. As an Australian, I need to sign up to Tennis TV or stream footage from gambling websites to watch top level tennis from around the world.
WTATennis.Com recommends that Australians watch WTA action via a beIN Sports subscription, which also costs $15 per month. Given the current cost of living crisis, it’s difficult to imagine anyone paying for additional subscription services solely to watch tennis.
Many people are at risk of being priced out of the sport, which is so disappointing. Consider how many young girls and boys have told their parents that they want to play football after watching the AFL, AFLW, and even the Matildas in the last month. The future generations are not even given a chance in Australian tennis coverage.
Let’s see if there are any changes to things in the months ahead. I’m not holding my breath.