Australian Subscription TV service Foxtel have launched a new Streaming Video on Demand service this week, to combat the growing competition of multimedia content providers like Netflix – but purely based on sports.
The new service Kayo Sports was launched quietly on Thursday 8th November, with the aim to provide over 50 genres of sport and recreation from around the globe, instantly. Currently in BETA mode, we decided to check it out and take advantage of the 14 day trial it’s providing.
The fight to have sports coverage on Free-To-Air versus Subscription TV has always been a long and ongoing battle, due to anti-siphoning laws and commercial agreements. Plus there’s always the argument on who claims to provide the best quality content, and the bottom dollar continuing to shrink for Foxtel. With Netflix and Stan streaming services purely concentrating on TV and film, plus most sports have their individual apps providing their own content at a median price, there is an avenue to combine it all into one service.
We will admit, we’re not hardcore sports nuts (and this site doesn’t publish much on sports in general) but we’re always intrigued on new SVOD services (expect a review with CBS‘s new TenAllAccess is launched), and we do have a soft spot for MLB (#GoTribe!), so, why not?
In order to access this service, you need to to head to KayoSports.com.au – which sounds like a phonetic spelling of “K.O.” or “Knockout”. For this review, we used the PC access as they are still working on the phone / table apps, and using Google Chrome browser. The internet access we use is Fibre to the Node NBN at 11MB bandwidth unlimited download and on WiFi.
Sitting in BETA mode at the time of this article, the clean layout presents itself well, with explanations on what the service is providing:
- Live and catch-up sports content from a variety of genres at your disposal.
- “No Spoilers”: you can choose to keep the scores and news hidden, or have everything reported as you access.
- High Definition streaming.
There’s currently two payment plans available: $25 a month for Basic access – which is streaming up to two screens at a time, or $35 a month for Premium – which is the same as Basic, but up to three screens at a time. Before we go any further, here’s a comparison on accessing Foxtel’s Sports channels.
Foxtel – cable / satellite service with basic access: You need to get minimum Entry pack (POP Pack: a bunch of their generic channels like FOX 8, Music, News, or the LIFESTYLE Pack – Lifestyle channels), then you can get the Sports pack, which is a Premium service that contains 12 sport channels. Minimum cost: $58 a month – no contract. This does not include the cost of any setups and installations.
Foxtel Now – instant IPTV service you can view on your PC / MAC / smart phone: You get the POP and LIFESTYLE pack as a bundle, then you can add the Sports pack. Minimum cost: $54 a month – no contract. Add $99 for your Foxtel Now box.
With Kayo Sports, all you need is a decent internet connection with the appropriate data stream, at least $25 a month of coin in your pocket, e-mail address, mobile phone and credit card (you need these to register) – and you’re set.
After a text message with a 6-digit code and e-mail confirmation received, we were in. But before you see the smorgasbord within, a questionnaire comes up for you to ask your favourite sport preferences, which is used in an algorithm to provide the ‘good stuff’ to you first. In this review, we’ve skipped it to get as much upfront as possible.
In a layout that echoes the Netflix template, it displays what you can instantly access – live and/or replay. Each tile shows what’s in progress and what has finished – though watchable as a replay.
The sports that are currently available are:
- Soccer / Football
- Aussie Rules
- Rugby League
- Rugby Union
- U.S. Football
- Extreme sports
- and Swimming
To test out the streaming, we randomly clicked Basketball to watch an NBA replay of Lakers vs Timberwolves. The screen at launch fills 3/4 of the monitor, with the loading time completed within seconds.
We gave the live sport streaming a crack, using the MLB Japan All-Star game that was in play. It came up a a treat. Minimal buffering, starting out at a slightly low resolution but adjusting itself within 20 seconds to get great quality.
There is a collection of documentaries and feature shows that are available for your consumption from various production houses. Lots from the libraries of ESPN.
But how far back does the library go? Now that the 2018 NRL and AFL season wrapped up in September, we dug into each category.
You can re-watch the Quarter / Semi / Grand Finals, as well as the games leading up to it. We tested out a Wests Tigers vs Manly game from the 23rd August.
For about a minute, our internet dropped speed, but Kayo Sports adjusted itself for bandwidth, going all ‘pixelated’ – and it still ran smoothly. After a minute or two, our bandwidth picked up again and the resolution became nice and clear in HD.
Changing sports channels with a simple click from the top menu, we checked out some U.S. Football. Let’s watch a replay of Michigan State vs Purdue.
On first glance, we were thrown off with a shot of a tennis match. Thinking we’ve clicked the wrong thing, it turns out that a match between Federer vs Medvedev was screened on ESPN before the football game. So in some cases, some saved matches were recorded and saved in a similar way to a DVR – a few minutes before the match is saved as a buffer. Once you work out that you’re on the right thing, just fast forward or skip using the controls at the bottom left corner, until you find what you need.
More recently was the Supercars Gold Coast 600 race that was washed out. The entire qualifiers and race is there to re-live the rainfall.
Interested in Darts? See it in all its high definition glory.
If you’re late to the party for a live game, but happy to chime in straight away, you can see a timeline on what has progressed during the cricket.
Honestly – this service is long overdue and is much needed in a market where people need to have this content at their fingertips. At the moment, there are no extra ads popping up – the only ads that have appeared are the regular ones during the games. While the apps for both Apple and Android are still being worked on, for options are you will be able to have four split screens so you can enjoy multiple sports at the one time.
If Foxtel keep it this way, they are onto a winner – but now they risk jeopardising their current customers who have the Foxtel boxes and don’t want the extra channels.
You can register on Kayo Sports for a free 14 day trial, no contract, and cancel at any time.
This review is independent and Kayo Sports nor Foxtel asked for promotion.