Why Major Sports Rarely Get Streamed Online

Dear Lifehacker, I just wondered if you'd investigated how to get the English Premier League on the cheap using the net without having to sign up to an expensive Foxtel package. Be great if you could offer some advice. Thanks, Des

Picture by Wally Gobetz

Hi Des,

For users who have become addicted to scheduling their own television programming via downloads and not paying for anything, sport remains very much the fly in the ointment. While there are dedicated viewers who will record matches and then share them via BitTorrent and other P2P systems, that's no good for a proper sports fan: live is the only way to go. There are dedicated live tweeters for many major sporting events and you can often catch live radio broadcasts, but watching online is a tricky and often impossible task. As you've noted, in many cases pay TV looks like the only viable option.

Highly popular sporting events in Australia are theoretically protected by the anti-siphoning list, which is meant to ensure they'll always be available on a free-to-air TV network. In practice, the operation of the list is pretty controversial, and the rules are due to change before the end of the year. But even that's unlikely to help with a sport like EPL, which is firmly tied into pay television and absolutely unlikely to end up being declared of national cultural significance.

In a world where TV viewers are proving harder and harder to attract, major sporting events remain one of the few guaranteed audience pullers. The top-rated events in Australia this year have been the AFL and NRL grand finals. That makes the TV rights to those games valuable, and sporting bodies have very little reason to dilute that value by streaming them. The endless cat-and-mouse games played by online streaming sites like Hulu to try and block out-of-country viewers demonstrate a pretty obvious rule: once something is online, someone clever will work out a way to access it for nothing.

The simplest solution for most sports bodies is not to risk that in the first place. As such, there's virtually zero incentive for major sporting events to invest in actually broadcasting online, even if they spend a lot of money on building sites to encourage and inform their fan communities.

There are occasional exceptions. For instance, Melbourne Cup races today are being streamed via BigPond (though that doesn't work outside Australia). In cricket, Indian Premier League matches are streamed on YouTube. In both cases, there's a risk that overwhelming demand might make actual viewing difficult. But in any case, there's not much sign of that happening routinely with anything that qualifies as a major sport in its country of origin.

That said, I'm sure the more sports-crazed of our readers (a category I can't pretend to belong in) may have some additional tricks up their sleeve when it comes to trying to access streaming sports in general and the EPL in particular, and they'll be happy to share them in the comments.

Cheers Lifehacker

Lifehacker's weekly Streaming column looks at how technology is keeping us entertained.



    I really can't comment on how legal this website is because A) I don't know, B) I don't want to know.


    The Links always go down and the quality is never good but its better than paying for foxtel.

    I think Fetch TV through iinet has at least Chelsea and Man City.


    For NBA fans you can pay for NBA League Pass through nba.com which is about $160 a season for access to every single game live and replays of any game you like from the whole season in HD quality. The only issue is that playoffs are extra and not included in the initial charge but well worth it for big basketball fans.

      League Pass is insane. They offer a long free trial, as well. The quality is nutso good. And per game, the price works out cheap as chips.

      No such luck for EPL. The best paid live stream I've found is something that costs $30 or something crazy per game. Not at all worth it.

      The NHL has the same thing, they call their Gamecenter Live, and it's gotten pretty damn good, this season you even have both the home and away tv station feed option so you don't have to listen to your rival's announcers talking gibberish. And it streams in 720p too, perfectly.

    I recommend sopcast together with myp2p website as pointed above. Both prove a very good watching quality and variety as well. Google sopcast, download and install it. Then, go on myp2p and search for the event you like, then click on the sopcast link (or copy it to sopcast)and bang, there you go provided that your internet connection speed is high enough. If one link fails, take another link. I have used this combination to watch a lot of EPL matches and so far, it is working 100%

    you can watch the epl online with the aussie foxsports website. costs 80 bucks till the end of june.


      Yes, all well and good in principle. But the quality, even with their 'hd' and full screen, is still worse than what you get for free!

    check out justin.tv works very well.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now