Yes, let’s talk about my favourite subject, football.
I wrote this article for Australia and New Zealand magazine some time ago, in fact it would probably have been around June 2017 and it appeared in August 2017 in their magazine. Right at the start of the new football season.
Of course, the season is nearly over now, so I have made one or two adjustments to this article to reflect that. I also talk about coverage here of the lower divisions along with an update on that. I gave it the working title of EPL in Australia, they called it Alive and Kicking.
COYS, as surely everybody knows, stands for ‘Come on you Spurs’. Tottenham fans chant it rhythmically during their games, and so do I. I’m not at the ground though, watching them in real life; I am in my lounge sitting on my own in front of my TV. Everyone else in my household will be in bed, sleeping like babies, oblivious to my singing.
Well, here in Brisbane, it is usually midnight and often 1 AM, depending on whether it’s summer or winter time in the UK, when the game starts. No cigar for Spurs last year, not quite, but as this season kicks off I know that again I’ll be able to watch every single game Tottenham play live. If I don’t want to watch it live for some reason, I can watch it on demand, whenever it suits me.
Now, if I still lived in the UK, the ONLY way I would be able to see Tottenham live during a 3 o’clock Saturday kick-off would be to actually go to the ground and pay, I think, anything from £30-£80 for a ticket.
I’ve lived in Australia for just over 10 years now, and in all that time I don’t think I’ve missed more than a handful of Tottenham’s games. For nine years I watched these games on Foxtel, Australia’s equivalent of Sky TV. Last year though, Foxtel lost the English Premier League contract to Optus, Australia’s second largest telecommunications company.
To be able to sign up for the football with them, you need to be an ‘Optus’ customer. The cheapest way to become one is to sign a $30 a month mobile phone contract over 12 months.
My wife was already an Optus mobile phone customer, so we qualified anyway. So for an extra teensy weensy $15 a month, we signed up for Optus Sport and I had access to not just Tottenham’s games, but almost every single game in the Premier League, live or on demand.
I could watch it on my mobile phone, my tablet or my PC. I wanted to watch it on my big screen TV though, so for an extra paltry $15 a month, I got a Fetch TV box to connect to my television and I could even add extra entertainment packages if I wanted them. The bottom line though, for just $30 a month I can watch pretty much ALL Premier League games, anytime, anywhere, anyhow.
Image courtesy of Optus Sport
If you are a Sunderland, Middlesbrough or Hull fan, I suspect this article has made you quite sad knowing that your team got relegated down into the Championship last season. Well, if you’re moving to Australia, this may cheer you up for a bit.
Starting this season there is a new service called iFollow, nothing to do with Optus, which will offer live streaming of games from 61 out of the 72 teams from the lower divisions. That’s the Championship, League One and League Two.
Details are a little sketchy as I write this, but my understanding is the service will cost £110 per year. Hopefully I’ll never need to find out any more information about this, I really don’t want to be watching Tottenham on iFollow anytime soon.
Football though, or soccer as it is referred to here, is definitely alive and kicking in Australia.
Update on iFollow and Optus
I just checked up on the iFollow website, at the time of writing the above article they had not launched, but they have now. Unfortunately, not every team signed up to be part of their service. Directly from their website’s subscribe page it says:
“We are therefore unable to provide subscriptions to fans of Accrington Stanley, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Bristol City, Charlton Athletic, Derby County, Fulham, Hull City, Forest Green Rovers, Middlesbrough, QPR, Sunderland and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Please contact your club for more information.”
Looks like Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hull fans here can continue to be sad. Judging by their positions in the Championship, that won’t change next year either and Sunderland fans are likely to be even more miserable.
As for Optus, next season, 2018/19, is their third under the current contract and after that I believe it’s all up for grabs again. Will Optus submit another winning bid? They are serious about their sport, they also won the rights to show all 64 World Cup 2018 games live and on demand on Optus Sport here in Australia. So I wouldn’t bet against them.
Or will Foxtel win the Premier League back? Or maybe we’ll get a new player on the block.
As they say, let’s take one game at a time.
For more information about Optus Sport, check out my original article on the subject from last year called Watching the English Premier League (EPL) in Australia 2016/17.