Two weeks of Grand Slam tennis action down under is about to come a head with this year's Australian Open finals. And you don't have to miss a single set of the action, with the help of streaming services and a VPN.
For tennis fans in the U.S., the biggest challenge in following the action will be the 16-hour time difference between the tournament in Melbourne and the east coast of the United States. That means the men's and women's singles finals will begin in the wee small hours of Friday and Saturday morning in our part of the globe.
The women's final is first up at 3:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 26. Japan's Naomi Osaka looks to follow up her 2018 US Open title with another Grand Slam win. Standing her way is Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, looking to add a third Grand Slam title to her collection in her first-ever Australian Open final.
A day later on Sunday, Jan. 27 at 3:30 a.m. ET, the men's final takes place. Rafael Nadal, who last won the Australian Open a decade ago, will face Novak Djokovich after the top-seeded player breezed through his Friday semifinal. It'll be the eighth time Nadal and Djokovich have squared off in a Grand Slam final.
Here are your options for streaming the two finals.
How to stream the Australian Open in the U.S.
ESPN has the U.S. broadcast rights to the Australian Open, so if you want to watch any part of the finals, you'd better pay a visit to the Worldwide Leader in Sports. The best way to stream is through the cable giant's ESPN app (Android, iOS). Launch the app, select the Watch tab, and you should be able to find either Australian Open final match at the appointed time.
MORE: Best Sports Apps
There's a catch to the ESPN app, though: you need to be a cable subscriber in order to watch live ESPN programming. You'll be asked to provide sign-on credentials from your cable provider to watch a stream of the tennis match. (At least, the match is available through ESPN's regular programming, so you won't need a separate $5-a-month ESPN+ subscription to catch this particular event.)
If you're a cord cutter, you can turn to an over-the-top streaming service that carries ESPN. While most of the Open has been carried on ESPN2, ESPN is picking up both finals for men and women. Fortunately, most streaming services include both ESPN and ESPN2 in the same package, so you're covered either way.
All the major streaming services — DirecTV Now, Hulu Live, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV and YouTube TV — include ESPN2. Prices start at $25 for SlingTV's Orange package, with other services costing $40 to $45. Because each service has a free trial period (five days for PlayStation Vue, seven for the other services), you may be able to watch both the men's and women's final for free, assuming you haven't already tried this trick.
How to watch with a VPN outside the U.S.
If you're not a fan of ESPN's coverage — or you live outside the U.S. — you're not out of luck. Just find out who's providing Australian Open coverage in your area. Here's a quick guide.
- Australia: Channel 9
- Canada: TSN
- U.K.: Eurosport
You can use a VPN to connect to try and access streams from outside the U.S. (Or, if you're overseas and hanker for ESPN's coverage, you can use a VPN to make you're back in the U.S.A.) Because a VPN lets you change your IP address, you can appear to be somewhere other than your physical location. (We don't endorse using a VPN to circumvent borders or other copy protections to access content.) VPNs offer encryption and privacy features as well.
We've tested top VPN services, and can recommend two of them:
Private Internet Access: Not only did Private Internet Access perform the best in our testing, it also offers the cheapest full-fledged VPN service, with prices starting at $2.91 per month.
Windscribe: This VPN service offers a free tier for up to 10GB of usage per month.
ExpressVPN: At $12.95 per month, ExpressVPN is one of the pricier VPN options, but it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee if you're dissatisfied.