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How To Watch The 2011 Grand Finals From Anywhere

Can you watch the AFL Grand Final in HD? Can you catch the NRL Grand Final from overseas? From free-to-air to internet, here are the options (such as they are) for catching the sporting action this weekend.

Picture by Dale Gillard

Assuming you’re not trying to fake conversation about the impending finals, chances are you’ll be one of the several million Australians who watch one or both of the main matches this weekend. What are your options?

What most people will watch: TV broadcasts

In the eastern states, Ten begins its AFL grand final broadcast from 1330 on Saturday. That equates to 1300 in South Australia and 1130 in WA.

Nine kicks off its main NRL grand final broadcast from 1630 Sunday in the eastern states. That equates to 1530 in Queensland (because it doesn’t have daylight saving, which kicks in on Sunday), 1600 in South Australia, and 1330 in Western Australia.

What you can’t watch: live HD broadcasts

Both grand finals are on the anti-siphoning list, which means the networks are obliged to show them on their standard networks to ensure everyone can see them even if they don’t have digital. There’s no legislation stopping the networks from also showing them on their existing HD digital networks (Gem for Nine, ONE for Ten), but neither channel is doing so. Ten’s reason is that it is showing MotoGP, which is contracted to appear on ONE; Nine apparently believes that more people will want to watch 1968 musical Funny Girl than an HD sports match. Yes, really. (For the record, Lifehacker’s editor would prefer to watch Funny Girl, but I still think that’s an amazingly short-sighted decision.)

There will be HD replays of both matches on FOX Sports for Fox HD subscribers (1800 AEST on Saturday for the AFL, and 1900 on Sunday for the NRL), plus a replay the AFL Grand Final on ONE at 2130 AEST on Saturday, but as far as live transmission goes? You’re out of luck, and it’s a fair guess the same thing will happen in 2012. (By 2013, when digital TV has rolled out nationwide, the rules will be somewhat different.)

International networks and options

The AFL had a list of its international broadcast partners on its site and a specific guide for the Grand Final, which should help you hunt down providers around the world. There’s a similar list for the NRL as well.

Virtually all of these are pay TV providers. Presuming you don’t have a subscription, the official AFL site has a overseas party finder to help you locate bars or other venues that will be showing the match.

Online options

Both the AFL and NRL offer an official live streaming service via the LiveAFL.TV and LiveNRL.TVsites, but you’ll have to pay for it (either $US13.95 or $US14.95 a month, depending on where you live). Note the service is designed for expats and is only available overseas.

There’s nothing official and free that we’re aware of for viewing purposes. However, there are plenty of radio stations covering both matches, most of which have online streaming which isn’t geoblocked, so listening should be easier. (You can find a list of the AFL’s radio partners here and for the NRL here). There will undoubtedly be plenty of comments on Twitter if you want to track the progress of the game that way.

Know additional sources we haven’t mentioned? Share them in the comments, and we’ll update this post with useful finds.