Football fans in Australia seem to always pull the short straw.
The sport itself is the fastest growing in Australia, with an increasingly growing domestic league and widespread interest in overseas leagues. At the top of this tree is the English Premier League crown.
Games in England start off at a reasonable hour right now at roughly 9pm, and descend into early hours of the morning – late kick offs are usually at the daunting 2:30am. Not totally horrendous. But with daylight savings this Sunday, add an hour onto those times. And come end of October, when English daylight savings go back, add two hours on. We’re talking average game time of 2:30am, with the late game being at 4:30am.
So in seasons previously, not a terrible situation because it was pretty easily accessible – either you had Foxtel, a friend had it, or your local pub had the subscription service. Enter Optus.
The new Optus Sport deal which holds all the rights to show the EPL in Australia, bar lending one game to SBS a week, is poor at best when it comes to availability. Firstly, the fact you must spend over $1300 on Optus services to qualify is a bit questionable – a price set to rise in coming seasons. Add an extra $5 a month if you want to watch it on your TV (you have to subscribe to Optus’ own subscription service, Fetch, to have that luxury.)
Complaints to the ACC from consumers have been piling up and petitions are gaining traction. Some call for refunds as the service reliability is so poor that Optus consistently don’t deliver on their claim of ‘live’ games. Then there’s the Optus twitter feed – packed with zingy abuse.
— James Murphy (@murphj) September 24, 2016
— Dannydeckchair (@dannydeckchairs) August 22, 2016
Why is the EPL so celebrated here in Aus? The A-league is great for raucous crowds and epic game atmosphere but the calibre of players just doesn’t compare. The EPL pulls the biggest names, splashes cash without concern and builds the teams of dreams – as it should.
Avid football fan Pouyan Omidian, has felt immense frustration over the service failing to provide solid coverage.
“Optus’ coverage failure makes me feel like the guy who gave his cheating girlfriend a second chance, only to be cheated on again with my best friend,” says Pouyan.
The recent Manchester derby heralded an unprecedented spend, all the players on the pitch were worth a total of £500 million. Aussie’s desperately want to watch the season unfold and with Optus’ inability to stream the games only the fans loose out. Not to mention the daylight savings change that will make it borderline impossible for people who aren’t Optus customers to watch.
But of course Optus offers a lot – a 24 hour football channel, some game replays and highlights on demand. The issue lies with it being a streaming service and the internet infrastructure in Aus is so poor, it just can’t hack it. A half-assed NBN just ain’t going to cut it. And the Ricky Gervais ads alone can’t appease dedicated fans.
As the sun sets on games at a reasonable hour the intermittent coverage is especially depressing. Pints and football go hand in hand but heading to the local at 3am just isn’t a reality, unless you have a casino nearby. Getting up at all hours just to be dampened by glitches, dropouts and shitty quality is enough to induce rage. Premier League fan Tasko Stoj explained it is ore about the drop off in experience.
“Optus’ coverage of the EPL is deplorable, either give customers what they deserve or hand the rights back to Foxtel so they broadcast live and in HD,” he says.
Optus paid $180 million for the rights over three years and they’re making millions more off sub par services. So it’s fair to say fans deserve to watch the game in high quality and without delay. Here’s to hoping money hasn’t come before the experience for fans. And it’s even making some miss the lame banter put forward by SBS, those were the days.
— Oakeswell (@oakeswell) September 18, 2016
Image source: Football Fan Cast.