Watching the UEFA Champions League (UCL) in Australia

Last night, which would have been early hours in the morning here, the UEFA Champions League (UCL) kicked off, as the 2018/19 competition got underway. The UCL is almost certainly the world’s most prestigious club competition; it’s undoubtedly the top prize for the big clubs like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

fc-barcelona

But how do you watch it in Australia?

Had you asked me this last year, my answer would have been different. I would have said that you would need to sign up for BeIN Sport. You can get BeIN Sport by adding Sport and HD to your Foxtel subscription at a cost of $39 per month.

Or, for $29 a month, you could add it to your Foxtel Now subscription.

If you don’t have Foxtel at all, you can subscribe direct to BeIN Sport for $19.99 a month and watch it on a laptop, desktop or mobile device. Or, again for $19.99 a month, you could add it to your Fetch TV box; here’s how one of those looks like sitting on top of a Foxtel iQ…

Fetch TV Box

That would have allowed you to watch the UEFA Champions League as well as LaLiga (Spain), Serie A (Italy), Bundesliga (Germany), and Ligue 1 (France).

That was last year though, this year, there is no UCL on BeIN Sport. They were outbid, losing the contract for the next three years. So, who has secured the Australian broadcasting rights to the UCL?

Optus Sport

Those of you who have read my post Watching the English Premier League (EPL) in Australia 2016/17 will know all about Optus Sport, they secured the rights to broadcast the EPL here in Australia a couple of years ago.

Now they have added the UEFA Champions League to their growing list of football competitions. In the winter, (summer in the UK) Optus Sport brought us the World Cup. More about that later.

The best way to watch Optus Sport is via a Fetch TV box, and in particular, the Fetch Mighty. This will allow you to record programs, remotely through an app if you wish, to the hard drive of the box.

Not just Optus Sport, but regular free to air TV channels as well as any extra entertainment packages you may add on. Well worth the $15 a month rental.

Other ways to watch are via apps available from Google Play or iTunes. You do not need to be an Optus customer, you can simply subscribe via the app for $14.99 a month. I do not recommend this option though, who wants to watch football on a mobile phone? The app itself gets quite poor reviews too.

I’m also told there are some limited options with the apps, but with a Fetch TV box, you can watch a shed load of football. As well as watching whole games live, you can watch replays of entire games on demand…

ECL

Then there’s highlights of each game that last only three minutes that can pack in a surprising amount…

highlightsIf you want more, watch a mini match instead, that’s a game scrunched down to 24 minutes…

mini matches

Then they have shorts, like this…

ecl shorts

And shows, like this…

ecl shows

News…

ecl news

As well as interviews, press conferences, classic matches and specials.

They will also be doing the same for the UEFA Europa League…

eufa

And as you know, they are already doing all of these kinds of shows for the EPL along with every single English Premier League game live and on demand as well…

epl

If that isn’t a shed load of football, I don’t know what is.

All for just $15 AUD a month.

That’s less than ten of your English pounds, if that’s what you use, or about 12 of your United States dollars.

England versus Switzerland £7.99?

Yes, I heard this friendly game was only available on Sky Sports in the UK for a one-off fee of £7.99. Guess what? Optus Sport had the rights to that as well and included it in their package…

internationals

They also have the rights to the new UEFA Nations League competition, again, included in the $15 a month fee.

It gets better.

If you sign up for a mobile phone plan with Optus, even if it’s just on a $35 a month (the current lowest price offering on a 12 month SIM only contract), they will give you Optus Sport for free.

What’s the catch?

A couple of things.

I said I’d get back to the World Cup, and that was the first problem. Many people complained about the app crashing, the games buffering, the picture quality not being good enough and not being able to watch the World Cup on the big screen.

I think unlike the EPL, everybody wanted to watch certain World Cup games in Australia, particularly those featuring the Australian team. This caused problems, maybe their server couldn’t cope, and Optus were facing a public relations nightmare.

They did the right thing though, they almost immediately stepped in and allowed SBS, a free to air TV channel, to show every World Cup game live on national TV.

Problem solved. Everybody happy. Public relations nightmare over.

They even refunded existing Optus Sport subscribers, like myself, the payment made in July and did not charge us for August.

Optus promised to improve performance of their apps going forward and I’m sure they will. Personally I didn’t experience any problems watching the World Cup through the already mentioned Fetch TV Mighty. More about that device in my article, a link to which I provided earlier, about the EPL.

Here’s the second ‘problem’.

Some people complained about the apparent 40-ish second delay when watching live football streaming through the internet. They would say that their phone would ping and it would be a message via Twitter or maybe Facebook where someone had sent a message saying something like “Goal! Yaaaaay!!”

Then they would look back up at the match and then watch as a goal was scored. This, apparently, was kind of spoiling the element of surprise for them.

Here’s the fix for that one; turn your phone off and just watch the football.

Here is a complete list of all the football rights now secured by Optus:

  • Premier League 2018/19-2021/22
  • FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019 and other FIFA events
  • UEFA Nations League 2018 and 2020
  • UEFA Euro 2020
  • UEFA Super Cup 2018-2020
  • UEFA Champions League 2018/19- 2020/21
  • UEFA Nations League Final 2019 and 2021
  • UEFA Europa League 2018/19- 2020/21
  • European Qualifiers for Euro 2020
  • European Qualifiers for 2022 FIFA World Cup
  • Selected international friendlies played in Europe by UEFA teams 2018-2022

It’s an impressive list, don’t you think?

My thanks to adnews.com.au for the above list and also Optus Sport for the images which were taken from their online website through a desktop PC, not from an app or a TV.

Anyway, I’ve got to go, football to watch.

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