That’s Online Entertainment (Part 3)

11/26/2012 9:14:49 AM

As broadcast deals start catering for the internet, sports fans finally have something to cheer about

Sport is the golden goose for free-to-air and Pay TV networks, which is why it’s often locked away with exclusive broadcast rights deals. Thankfully it’s getting easier to watch live sport online, although you might need to bend the rules to find everything you’re after.

Some sports are locked away on Foxtel, but thankfully Foxtel sports channels are now available online via the Xbox 360, T-Box and Samsung Smart TV app. The frustrating thing about Foxtel - even on these devices - is that every month you’re forced to pay for lots of channels you don’t want, just to enjoy the few programs you’re actually interested in.

Description: Xbox 360, T-Box and Samsung Smart TV app

Xbox 360, T-Box and Samsung Smart TV app

Teistra mobile customers can get Foxtel on some smartphones, but they can also subscribe to an AFL package or simply pay to watch a single match - a luxury Foxtel customers are denied. A decision on the next round of NRL rights is expected in August. Unfortunately legal wrangling over sports rights has halted online PVR services such as Optus TV Now and MyTVR, which would let you watch live free to air sport on a slight delay.

Cricket Australia continues to embrace the internet and this summer you’ll be able to watch Big Bash, One Day and Test cricket Live on the Vodafone Cricket Live app. You can pay to watch one match or sign up for a season pass. The service isn’t restricted to Vodafone customers, but they enjoy unmetered streaming. Almost every Sheffield Shield and women’s match will also be streamed on the web.

Of course there’s more to sport than just footy and cricket. Foxtel’s ESPN, Euro sport and FuelTV cater to a wide range of international sports. These channels are also available via other devices compatible with Foxtel. Meanwhile SBS simulcasts some sport online, such as soccer and cycling. Then there’s Telstra’s BigPond TV, which offers AFL, NRL, V8 Supercars, horse racing and other sports via a browser or lounge room gadgets such as the T-Box. Online Pay TV provider Fetch TV also offers a sports package which includes Setanta Sports for live soccer along with European Football Channels.

Thanks to the internet, major sporting leagues and clubs are starting to cut out the broadcasters and go direct to fans. The AFL and NRL offer live games online for subscribers outside of Australia (or at least if it appears that you’re outside Australia). If you’re a fan of American basketball, baseball or ice hockey you can subscribe to their international services which include live matches. Soccer fans might find a Setanta Sports online subscription offers better value than signing up for a full Pay TV service, although it’s worth noting that Foxtel offers pay-per-view English Premier League matches online without the need for a Foxtel subscription.

Description: Full Pay TV service

Full Pay TV service

Once again, the truth is that you’ll find almost any sporting event streamed live online for free, if you know where to look. Sports feed aggregators on shaky legal ground include, and The picture quality can be hit and miss, but the same can be said of the paid services. Some online gambling sites also offer live sports feeds to paying customers.


For most people there’s no one home entertainment device to rule them all

The search for one perfect player is a frustrating quest, although a media centre PC or PlayStation 3 could tick all your boxes. Other people will have more luck with a handful of gadgets with overlapping features, all driven by a universal remote such as a Logitech Harmony.

If you just want to hire movies, the Apple TV, Telstra T-Box, Fetch TV or TiVo could do the trick. All except the Apple TV are also Personal Video Recorders. You’ll find various ISPs offer unmetered downloads for these different devices.

Description: DLNA-compatible


If you’re also after Catch Up TV then you might be happier with a Smart TV-enabled television or Blu-ray player. Sony offers the best spread of Australian Catch Up TV, along with a wide range of other video sources. You’ve also got access to Sony’s music and movie services, plus  Quickflix and Mubi. Meanwhile some Samsung and LG gear taps into Bigpond Movies and Quickflix, but they don’t offer as many Australian Catch Up TV services.

Most new Blu-ray players are also DLNA-compatible, letting you stream downloaded videos across your home network from your computer or network drive (handy if you still favour the BitTorrent Channel). If you only want to stream local video files then the WD TV Live could be your perfect media player (it’s also getting iView access). Keep in mind Telstra recently added DLNA video streaming to the T-Box, but you’ll need to hack an Apple TV to perform such tricks (see

Early Android media players from the likes of Kogan and Nixeus were intriguing but clunky beasts. New Android 3.0-based devices such as Sony’s Google TV box show more promise, but for now they’re only available when you purchase a new Sony Bravia TV. Another opt ion is to stream video from an Apple or Android tablet to a compatible set-top box, perhaps using DLNA or Apple’s Airplay.

D—Link’s Boxee Box is a streaming media player with a few extra tricks. Boxee apps grant you easy access to a wide range of online video sources including iView. The Boxee Box also features a Flash-enabled web browser which lets you watch practically any browser-based video source. It offers smooth and crisp playback, although dealing with intrusive advertising and overlays is cumbersome when you’re trying to watch quasi-legal online streams. The icing on the cake is the Boxee Box’s VPN client, making it easy to use a VPN service such as Witopia to tap into foreign content.

The next step up could be a jack- of -all trades PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. The PS3 is the one to watch - featuring a DVD/Blu-ray player, optional PVR, movie and music services, streaming media capabilities, a built-in browser and access to several Catch Up TV services. The Xbox 360 is far more limited, but it can act as an extender for a Windows- based media centre.

Description: DVD/Blu-ray player

DVD/Blu-ray player

Which brings us to the sometimes fickle Media Centre PC. They’re not for everyone, but lounge room PCs do offer the widest range of options and make it easy to run a VPN. Some versions of Window include Microsoft’s Media Centre interface, but you might also look to third-party alternatives such as XBMC, Plex, MediaPortal or MvthTV.

If you want to stream music around your house, consider options such as Apple’s Airplay or a Logitech Squeezebox. The gold standard in multi-room audio is the Sonos Digital Music system, which is compatible with most subscription music services.

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