Review was updated on 11th June, 2019
When mobile provider Ovo launched not too long ago, they got immediate attention not just for their well-priced prepaid plans, but also for a major perk that came along with them – access to a unique streaming service named OvoPlay. Now, a greatly expanded and enhanced OvoPlay is open to everyone – free of charge!
Starting a custom streaming service as a perk for your mobile phone customers was a pretty clever move from the then-unknown Ovo Mobile – it drew attention to the company and their offerings, and surely persuaded a number of people to sign up for their service. After all, in a world where sports broadcasting of every kind seems to be asking viewers for more and more money, having one pop up that charged nothing was going to be appealing right off the bat. OvoPlay also showed sports the other networks didn’t – not only things like motorsport championships, but also far less well-covered sports such as gymnastics.
They’ve grown their range of channels to a substantial 13 now, with a heavy emphasis on Australian grass-roots sports.
The catch, of course, was that you needed to be an Ovo Mobile subscriber to gain access to OvoPlay, but that’s all changed now. Possibly with an idea that the streaming service can work to promote the mobile offering and draw new customers in that way, anyone can now access OvoPlay and stream completely unrestricted. Ovo Mobile customers also get one very valuable perk though – they can stream as much as they like without affecting their data allowance at all. For everyone else, your data usage with OvoPlay is something you’ll have to monitor if you’re streaming on mobile.
What Makes OvoPlay Different?
We’re all familiar with the sort of sports coverage we get here in Australia – whether it’s the blockbuster sports on free-to-air, the occasional niche sport on the ABC, or the wall-to-wall 15-channel sports-fest on Foxtel, Australia’s got no shortage of sport on TV. What we don’t see a lot of is sports via general streaming services. Amazon Prime has made some inroads into delivering streaming sport with American football and ATP tennis, but aside from that, if you want to stream sport you’ll find yourself paying for it – and often paying quite a lot. When sport makes it onto TV or Amazon Prime it’s usually a pretty international affair, something big enough to draw attention.
But there’s a wealth of great sport coverage that we rarely get to see at all – whether it’s Aussies flinging cars around a track in Aussie Racing events, going in a straight line really fast in the 400 Thunder Australian pro drag racing, or Aussie badminton, gymnastics, water polo, running and athletics, or even Australian eSports. All of that can be found on OvoPlay, with a diverse mix of scheduled live streaming coverage and on-demand videos.
All of it is completely free, and there’s even the full range of national HIT FM radio stations available to stream if all you’re looking for is a bit of background music!
What Does OvoPlay Deliver?
While OvoPlay started out as a fairly modest service with a handful of sports, they’ve grown their range of channels to a substantial 13 now, with a heavy emphasis on Australian grass-roots sports (though there’s international competitions here as well). For example, if the sport of marathon running captures your imagination and interest, OvoPlay has the entire 2018 Sydney Marathon coverage online for you to stream on demand.
The channels currently on offer are:
|400 Thunder||Australia||Drag Racing|
|Aussie Racing||Australia||Street Car Racing|
|Aussie Running & Athletics||Australia||Marathon running|
|Australian Esports League||Australia||DOTA 2
|Brumbies Rugby||Australia||Super Rugby|
|Chinese Super League||China||Soccer|
|Gymnastics Australia||Australia||State, national and world championships|
|Water Polo Australia||Australia||Water Polo|
Not all of these channels keep extensive on-demand archives (we’d guess due to the vagaries of streaming rights) and some seem more targeted at live streaming events as they happen – complete with a countdown clock until the next one goes live. But there’s a great cross-section of sports on offer there, with Ovo’s early motorsports focus now enhanced with more diverse offerings. In particular, it’s great to see league esports sharing space with more physical sporting events – it may not be for everyone, but its audience is huge (and really, most of the sports here fall into the “may not be for everyone” category!).
SIM only Plans
What About Movies/TV Shows?
Ovo’s keeping itself strictly about event streaming at the moment, rather than moving into offering movies or TV series. Of course, there’s a lot of terrific sporting movies made here in Australia and overseas – surfing movies have a passionate following, for example – so it’d be great to see content like that added in the future.
The thing that separates a sport streaming service from the more traditional “movies and shows” model, though, is their ability to focus on events as they happen and get audiences to the right place to watch them. Anyone who’s seen the Amazon Prime attempts at sports streaming will know that just finding the stream can be a challenge, since live sport doesn’t fit neatly into the usual streaming categories. With OvoPlay, not only is it easy to go direct to the sport you want, but it tells you clearly when the next live stream is going to be.
The OvoPlay User Experience
Accessing OvoPlay is as simple as heading to the web site and getting started – you’ll be given the option to register (or to sign in using your Facebook or Google account) and we highly recommend doing so, as it enables HD streaming on the channels that offer it. If you’re an Ovo Mobile customer you’ll likely already be logged in anyway
It’s a fast and responsive web site that’s well laid out and easy to navigate, and you’ll find what you’re looking for and be watching in no time at all. Users are able to choose the streaming quality manually, too – up to 1080p HD if the stream supports it – but otherwise it handles stream quality automatically.
An even better way to watch OvoPlay, though, is via the free apps that are available for iOS and Android – because they’ve both been enabled for casting to your big-screen TV. The iOS app can do AirPlay to an Apple TV, and both apps can send to your Chromecast device. We took a look at some of the esports coverage via AirPlay and the picture quality was really impressive – full HD, flawless streaming. The streaming server did have a bit of a hiccup when we headed back into the app during playback, but that looked like a minor problem and we couldn’t reproduce it.
It’d be great to see a native Apple TV app – and hey, why not apps on other devices like Telstra TV or Amazon’s Fire TV Stick as well? In the meantime, though, casting takes care of big-screen TV viewing perfectly well.
OvoPlay is currently available on these devices:
|Device||Does it work?|
|iPhone/iPad||Yes (iOS 10 or higher required)|
|Android Phone/Tablet||Yes (Android 5.0 and up)|
|Windows/Mac Web Browsers||Yes|
Keep an eye on this page for updates on OvoPlay apps that get released for other platforms and devices!
Ovo isn’t the first phone provider to venture into the world of sports streaming – the big guns have both had a go at it, with Telstra’s AFL and NRL apps or Optus’s occasionally troubled English Premier League and World Cup streaming. But OvoPlay is different in several ways. Firstly, it’s free, not requiring a subscription, phone plan or anything else. Ovo is hoping you’ll come for the streaming and stay for the enticing prepaid mobile plans, and perhaps switch to them.
Secondly, the range of channels on offer here gives a whole lot of fascinating, crowd-pleasing sports an easily accessible platform where fans can watch live or on demand.
We’d recommend you bookmark OvoPlay, grab the app and keep an eye on it in the coming months. Because after a reasonably slow start, it looks like they’ve decided to put the pedal to the metal and rapidly expand the service. Who knows what’s around the corner?