Tennis Watchers Takes: WTA TV
The launch of WTA TV last week was a huge relief to WTA fans who have been longing for a streaming option this year. With all the anticipation, I signed up and spent a day with WTA TV. Below are some notes, observations, and maybe even a "hot take" or two from this case study! Leave a comment with your thoughts, or join the discussion on the Tennis Watchers Facebook Page. I am looking forward to post a few more Tennis Watchers Takes down the road too!
WTA TV Case Study:
Date Viewed: 7/31/17
Macbook Pro, 2016
iPad Mini 4
Internet Speed via speedtest.att.com: 9.94 MBS
Overall I was pleased and impressed with my first WTA TV viewing experience.
I am looking forward to seeing how the platform performs during my month long subscription.
I thought the price was very good at $9.99/month or $74.99/year. One quick observation on price, is this service might be perfect for viewers who are hesitant/unable to upgrade their cable package to include the beIN channel package.
While I think this is a great start for WTA TV, there are definitely areas for improvement.
Overall viewing Breakdown
I thought picture quality was great. The stream typically took 30 seconds or so to"buffer" , but once it did I found the picture to be very clear. For an internet stream, picture quality was exceptional.
I had left the quality option set to "auto" which worked well for my viewing experience.
It is a challenge to compare response times, given so many variables, but overall I was quite pleased with the streaming quality of WTA TV. When compared to my experiences with ESPN streams, or streaming via Direct TV which often required refreshing, and would have a considerable amount of lag as the matches wore on, I spent about 4 continuous hours watching, and WTA TV seemed to maintain the same performance throughout the matches.
When comparing the stream on my laptop to the livescore app, I didn't notice a discernable difference between the scores.
When comparing the stream on my laptop to streaming on my iPad, I did begin to notice a bit of a lag on the iPad. In general, it seemed like streaming via mobile was slightly slower. The iPad was on the same wifi connection as my laptop.
When comparing the stream on my laptop to the feed on TV, I did notice a slight lag on the stream. I would say it was approximately ten seconds or so.
When bringing up four matches on a laptop, I did not notice a change in performance or quality.
Most importantly, the commentary was not intrusive. It seems the general direction was to serve as a general guide for the viewer throughout the match not be too heavy on match analysis.
Overall, I found the commentators well versed and pleasant. The commentary was very easy to listen to, and there was very little (if any) talking during the points.
The commentators really focused on the players themselves. There was little extraneous talking about other narratives or stories going on in the sport. I thought the commentators did a good job of highlighting the two players on court. This is a definite difference from what viewers who primarily watch Tennis Channel or ESPN are used too.
The control functions were a bit confusing at first. While I didn't find much information in the FAQ on how to navigate, they aren't overtly complicated. Below is an example of what you can expect:
- Rewind 10 seconds.
- Fast Forward 10 seconds.
- The scroll bar to navigate throughout the match. This was the confusing item for me. I am not sure what the white line between start and the black bar is supposed to signify.
- Audio volume.
- Streaming quality option (I left on auto throughout my viewing experience).
- Viewing format options (multiple streams, single stream, etc).
- Switching between matches was simple and quick. I liked the drag and drop feature to pick and choose which matches to stream. Belowis an example of what you will experience:
Multiple streams open at one time.
Schedule of live events. The "Watch Live" icon indicates courts that currently have play. To generate this list, you will see a small "schedule" icon on the right hand side of the stream.
To choose a court, click and drag to an open spot on the viewing grid.
Options on how to format the viewing screen.
Overall, I enjoyed the viewing options that WTA TV provided. Adding and removing streams was seamless and easy. There are a few things here that can be improved, which I will note in the wish list below.
Future Case Studies to Consider
Using chrome cast to stream from laptop to a TV.
How does the stream hold up during more high profile times and matches? Is there any difference in stream or picture quality?
A mobile app! This is probably the most glaring absence from the WTA TV experience. While streaming via a mobile web browser was okay, it was still a bit clunky just navigate. Having a dedicated app would be a huge value add in my opinion. I also think a number of enhancements an app would provide including notifications when matches start, more interactivity, and a dedicated platform to help troubleshoot issues would be something I hope the WTA looks at down the road.
Live stats and scores while streaming. A running update ofthe stats of the match being streamed would be a great add to WTA TV. I am thinking something along the lines of Slam Tracker, which we see during slams.
An enhanced match selection screen. When choosing which court to stream, there is no current indication about the players that are actually on court. A great addition would be a line item that indicates who is currently playing and, if possible, the current score.