LONDON: Amazon, the global retail and now media giant, has suspended the review function of its maiden US Open coverage, after the overwhelming majority of reviews were one-star complaints. When it comes to sport broadcasting, the tech firm has a lot to learn.

On Wednesday, Amazon suspended reviews following customer anger at perceived failures in the service. These included no replay option or on-demand viewing and picture quality faults. An Amazon spokesperson said “We are working with customers to address specific issues – we listen to all customer feedback and are always working to improve all aspects of our service.”

On Saturday, the Guardian wondered whether Amazon was ready for its first foray into live sports – a foray that cost the company £34 million to secure. With a dedicated studio, and significant former players such as Greg Rusedski to present and analyse. As the paper pointed out, Amazon wouldn’t be the first company to fail.

During the World Cup, YouTube suffered an outage during a semi-final game. Worse, in Australia, a dedicated streaming company, Optus, had to hand the World Cup rights back to the public broadcaster SBS because of ongoing problems. DAZN, the new streaming service with the rights to Italy’s Serie A football league, issued an apology for messing up its stream of the season’s first game.

“Of course we’re prepared,” said Alex Green, head of Amazon Prime Video’s sport section in Europe, “we’re no stranger to large-scale live events”. He noted the project’s scale and importance. “It’s the biggest live event we’ve covered in the UK. We’re confident we can service demand.”

It’s not surprising that Amazon drew such ire. It’s not unlike the glee that some people derive from watching robots fall over. People’s expectations of the service were, understandably, exceedingly high. Not only has the public been won over to its retail arm by excellent service, it has also laid down a statement of much greater sporting intent.

For a company that has made significant moves toward the UK’s beloved Premier League, the US Open was both an audition and a first run. Sports broadcasting is difficult to do well, difficult to add to, and easy to mess up. Amazon has seen how even minor failures in sports can generate huge amounts of negative emotion, something it will have to understand and rectify soon.

Unlike its predecessor, Sky, whose (non-Twitter) feedback function is hidden to the world, Amazon bears its flaws bravely. It is a valuable lesson.

Sourced from the Guardian, WARC