The calendar clicks over into December and, every year, millions of sport fans know what that means. A year of work is winding down, the holiday season is on the way, the cool days of spring are giving way to the heady heat of summer – and that means sport, and plenty of it.
While we love our winter sports and follow them fanatically, there’s something quite special about the summer season of sporting goodness. It might be that combination of backyard barbies and beers with your mates, but it’s probably also got a lot to do with the way sport is covered on TV these days. For a while now, if you love your sport you’ve had some options for serious summer sport coverage direct to your big screen TV at home. Those options just got a little more interesting, though, thanks to the newest player on the starting block – Kayo Sport.
What’s a Kayo, Exactly?
Ever since Netflix got started in Australia and turned millions of people into streaming TV fans overnight, there’s been one ingredient missing from the streaming TV menu – premium, live sport. Sure, there have been various options for watching some sport, but if you wanted the most comprehensive coverage and the best picture quality, there have been limited ways to get it, and the price tag’s been a bit on the high side.
Kayo aims to change all that. It’s got that perfect combination of fresh new ideas backed by access to a vast source of content, with the unstoppable power of the Fox Sports network, ESPN, beIN and others delivering live sport to you, on demand via broadband, in pristine high definition.
And the price tag? A mere $25 a month for access to all of Kayo Sports – no contracts, no installations, no hassles. The company behind Kayo has been trying to build what they’ve described as the “Netflix of sport”. As a review of Kayo reveals, they’ve certainly done that and a bit more.
Not only does it offer a comprehensive library of live sport fixtures, you can access Kayo via web browsers on your desktop or laptop computer, but sport belongs on the big screen and thankfully, Kayo’s got that well covered with apps on an expanding range of device. Right now, you can grab the Kayo app for your iOS or Android phone or tablet, or explore the service directly on the TV via apps for Apple TV and Telstra TV. More apps are on the way – Android TV first, then other smart TVs. As summer goes on, Kayo will be available in more and more places and, like you’d expect, you can watch on as many platforms as you like, with up to two playing at one time.
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If it was just about streaming live sports for a flat $25 a month, that would be great in itself. But Kayo goes beyond that to a surprising extent, and sports fan are going to love playing with Kayo’s unique features.
For starters, you don’t have to watch live. If you fire up the Kayo app half an hour after the match has started, you get a choice – watch from the start, or watch live. Unlike other services where you had to wait until the next day to stream a replay, Kayo creates its replays on the fly so you can access them while the game is still in progress. To go with that brilliant feature is the “no spoilers” option (turned on by default). This prevents that nightmare scenario where you log in to watch a replay and are greeted by the final score, spoiling the whole thing. With Kayo, you’ll never see scores unless you deliberately enable them. You can watch the game half an hour or half a day delayed and it’s like it’s playing live.
Then there’s the Key Moments feature, available when you watch a replay. That puts the most important bits of a game on the streaming timeline so you can jump straight to them – wickets, sixes, goals, all the important bits. If you’ve only got time for a quick catch-up, it’s brilliant. You’ll also find comprehensive stats and scores at hand for games if you want them, constantly updated as the game progresses.
And best of all is the Split View feature, letting you play TV director by placing up to three extra windows on screen containing whatever sport you like, live or replayed (or even alternate camera angles of the main sport).
What’s on the Summer Sport Menu?
Many Australians think about summer sport as being inseparable from cricket, and there’s more of it than ever to watch this year thanks to the new deals in place for cricket coverage from around Australia and all around the world. Things get started as soon as summer does, with the traditional Domain Test Series alongside the Big Bash Leagues for those who like their action fast and spectacular. The One Day Internationals join the line-up in January to give cricket fans even more of a reason to stay in front of the TV, and Kayo’s got full coverage of all of it – live games, instant replays and more.
From the US, the NBA action continues right through summer, while the NFL makes its way towards the all-important playoffs in January. Back home, meanwhile, the NBL action is all covered as well.
Rugby fans get a treat with extensive coverage, including the World Rugby HSBC Seven Series starting in December and the Women’s Sevens in February, when the Super Rugby and the Six Nations contest also get under way.
If it’s the round ball that’s more your thing, there’s a long hot summer of soccer on the way with the Hyundai A-League as well as international games from the Asian Cup, La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A.
And the ball game that beats them all kicks off in February – the 53rd Superbowl is live and direct with all the action, noise and half-time extravagance that the greatest event in American football is famous for.
All that, along with UFC and surfing action, is an absolute feast for sports fans, and it’s all crammed into that one app for the one price – there’s nothing extra charged for viewing any of the sports, or the wealth of extra material that’s on tap alongside it (including dozens of in-depth sporting documentaries).
Comparing the Cost
Having access to all this sport, whenever and wherever you need it in full high definition, is pretty impressive for $25 per month. It’s even more impressive, though, when you consider how much the alternatives would cost you.
The most obvious go-to choice for sports fans – and in the case of many sports, the only option for many years – has been Foxtel, where you’ve traditionally had to pay for a base package of channels first before you can add the sports channels on top. At current prices, that means $58 per month – but then you would want to add HD, bringing the cost to $68 per month. For that you get live sport with the ability to record it on a hard disk to watch later, but very limited catch-up streaming. Foxtel’s sports service is first-rate and of high quality, but Kayo offers more to the sort of fan that likes things to run on their schedule, and costs only $25. Even Foxtel from Telstra’s limited offer of HD sport for $39/month seems costly by comparison!
From the streaming side of things, another popular option has been to use Foxtel Now to access the Foxtel sport channels – and at the old Foxtel Now pricing that used to be a fairly appealing choice. With only a $10 base pack needed to access the $29 sport pack, the $39 total was similar to getting a discount Foxtel satellite installation but with instant access. The recent price changes pushed that minimum cost for sport up to $54/month, though – and it’s worth noting that live streams on Foxtel Now are only in 720p HD, not the full-resolution 1080p that Kayo has access to. Again, Kayo wins out not just on price (where it’s less than half) but this time also with picture quality.
What about specific sports, though? Well, regardless of which sport is your true passion, you’re going to have to either put up with patchy coverage on free-to-air TV or, in the case of many international sports, subscribe to their own online services. For example, NBA basketball fans can grab the NBA app for their phone or tablet – but it costs $40 a month or $300 a year to actually watch the games.
A-League soccer? You can watch through their app for $99 a year or $17 a month with the same 7” screen size limit that the AFL and NRL apps have – no viewing on your TV. It’s a similar story with other sports and leagues – Kayo is leaps and bounds ahead in terms of technical quality, and not even in the same ballpark when it comes to price.
Beyond Summer with Kayo
Even more impressive is the fact that Kayo looks at their launch offering as a starting point, and intends to offer sport fans even more as we head into 2019 (and of course, the AFL and NRL seasons, both of which will be streaming in HD on Kayo).
With so much live sport on tap – and so many ways to catch up with games when the time suits you, complete with features you can’t get anywhere else – $25 a month with a 14 day free trial seems almost too cheap. Kayo has said the price won’t be going up, though. But once word gets around over the summer, we’re betting their subscriber count will!