SBD/June 10, 2014/Media

App Review: Tennis Channel Everywhere Excels During Matches, But Basics Are Missing

Tennis Channel Everywhere is an app built for viewing the Tennis Channel and its complementary, digital native partner, Tennis Channel Plus. In its current state, the app is good for watching tennis, but it lacks many of the expected features a tennis fan might be looking for in a mobile companion, like a full match schedule for tournament play. Developed by NeuLion and re-launched in May, Tennis Channel Everywhere is an ad supported free download. Authentication is required for viewing the Tennis Channel, and Tennis Channel Plus ($59.99 for the year or $9.99 for a day pass) requires separate credentials. The app is broken into four sections of video: Featured, Tennis Channel, Tennis Channel Plus and On Demand. Timely and relevant video is presented in the Featured section. Live matches are promoted in a graphic slide show above listings. To watch the Tennis Channel, users must authenticate by selecting their cable provider and logging in. This is a simple process. There are 18 hours of time-stamped Tennis Channel video available within this section each day, with live programming running from 6:00am ET to midnight. Tennis Channel Plus requires a separate registration, which can be done on TennisChannel.com or within the app via iTunes. Despite the need to create a separate account, this process is also quick and convenient. Much like WWE Network, Tennis Channel Plus offers a non-stop playlist of video including classic matches and special features. A subscription to this bonus channel also includes access to multiple court streams during tournaments, which was great for watching Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova battle their way into the final rounds of the French Open. This is a unique and compelling feature for fans that want to view a match not available on live TV. A VOD section rounds out the content offering with video from ATP, WTA and ITF tournaments. It also houses classic matches and original Tennis Channel shows. Some of the on-demand content is free, but much of it requires a subscription to Tennis Channel Plus. This review was conducted on an iPhone 5 version 7.1.1, with AT&T service.

ACES: The Tennis Channel Plus model should be commended up front for its multi-court feature. For tournament play, this is definitely attractive to fans that want the option to jump from stream to stream rather than wait for the coverage of each match on TV. For $9.99, the day pass is a nice value for fans at home or at the venue. Another noteworthy feature of the app is the Tennis Channel live content. This is free to all users and permits instant viewing of any show that airs on the channel that day. So, content that airs at 9:00am is available until midnight. This is nice for those who want to catch up on a missed show.

FAULTS: Tennis Channel Everywhere excels in depth of video, but the app lacks a search feature and struggles in effectively naming content. Match-specific content is recognizable by title, but font size is small and many of the titles are longer than the space allotted to them. VOD content incorrectly shows all clip lengths to be 0:00, and for those viewing multiple videos in a short amount of time, pre-roll advertising is unchecked and somewhat overbearing. Currently, the app offers no sharability, social integration or transactional touch points aside from the upgrade to Tennis Channel Plus. Tickets and merchandise would be a nice add-on. Also missing from the app are scores, stats, alerts and -- most notably -- a full match schedule for tournament play.

BOTTOM LINE: Despite the exclusion of a full tournament schedule with tune-in information, Tennis Channel Everywhere is a nice mobile companion for watching live matches on the Tennis Channel or viewing multiple courts during tournaments with Tennis Channel Plus. During down time, the app needs to be more compelling if it wants to be everything to tennis fans. Searchable content, alerts and social distribution tools are on the wish list for the next release.

Amie Sheridan (amie.sheridan31@gmail.com) is a freelance writer in Philadelphia.

See Sheridan's previous App Review submissions for THE DAILY:
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