What Has Your SBS World Cup Experience Been Like?

What Has Your SBS World Cup Experience Been Like?

The World Cup is in full swing, and with it SBS’ coverage online and in its Android and iOS apps. It has been a bold experiment for the public broadcaster — but has it worked?

I’m no great sports fanatic at the best of times, although soccer is one sport that I’ll watch if it happens to be on. In the case of the World Cup, that’s been on all the time at the moment thanks to SBS’ blitzkrieg of coverage across digital TV, games consoles, web and apps.

[related title=”WORLD CUP 2014″ tag=”fifa-2014″ items=”2″]The web and app side of things interested me intensely pre-launch, simply because there’s so very much that could go wrong, especially with buffering issues. Even though I’m broadly sports-indifferent, even I can appreciate that live sport needs to be live, not buffering every twelve seconds, especially in an age where Twitter could spoil the next goal or save long before a stream has caught up. It’s annoying when a drama hangs for a second or two, but when you’re watching a supposedly live game in the middle of the night it’s absolutely exasperating.

To that end, at least, though, I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with SBS’s The World Game app and its streaming ability. There does seem to be a slight delay — so you’ve still got to keep clear of social media — but so far I’ve had no problems with it. Even the advertising seems relatively painless to me, and I can appreciate how this is a model that could be used for a lot of TV streaming going forth, as long as careful ad balance is maintained.

But that’s my mostly-non-sports eye viewing it, arguably with more of a view towards how to do online TV correctly. I’d be interested in your experiences of watching the World Cup online, especially if you’re a mad keen sports watcher generally. Has SBS kicked it into the back of the net, or is it more of an own goal?

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


  • I have been impressed with SBS’ coverage of the world cup both on TV & online. The app works flawlessly and has all the content. SBS has kicked this one into the back of the net for sure!

  • Very impressed with SBS!!
    Crystal clear picture on TV that puts the channel 7’s disgraceful AFL coverage to shame.
    Flawless internet radio in the car on the way to work.
    And the fantastic website, with seamless coverage, overlaid stats and ability to drag play back to any point in the game… means i don’t even have to be late for work!

  • Agree with gazmodo – TV picture is fantastic! – but the app is amazing – best thing I have seen any Australian media company provide. For events like this with multiple streams it makes sense. Navigation can be a bit weird sometimes and labelling of video needs some work – but the picture and quality of the stream is impeccable.

  • Really great coverage especially The World Game iPad app. The only thing I would change is when you go to watch a match replay, the final score is right there to see. Instant spoiler 🙁

    • +1
      Really annoying. It’s good when the match is on On Demand (where they don’t have the score), and I automatically look for that, but it’s completely random as to whether they put it on there or not – so more often than not I just get spoiled.

  • This is what Free to Air Sports broadcasting should be like! It will be interesting to see who has the rights for the commonwealth games and how they broadcast it.

  • the delay in this vision in relation to the commentary is annoying. In the brazil v croatia game the commentator called the home goal before we saw it. Very annoying

  • It’s been absolutely brilliant. Those who agree ought to tell SBS and let them and everyone else know what a service they’ve provided. Too often we whinge about bad services but don’t compliment good/great ones. And it’s free!

    • Every commercial network could learn a thing or two from SBS. Their online presence is streets ahead of the commercial networks.

  • Very good app. I have used it for all the games I watched as I have bad SBS reception. They have a history of good apps. Their Tour de France app is awesome and I am looking forward to using that again to follow the race.

  • *In before bad experience due to Australia losing.*

    SBS and Google have been great for keeping up to date on the World Cup mind you.

  • the mobile app’s extra features, like having the video timeline in game minutes (0-45-90), and the stream’s quality are great.

    but i have used it daily to watch highlights from the matches ive missed and for the last two days it has been showing me an ad in between every replay clip/angle view i try and select – sometimes the replay clip is 7 seconds but im forced to watch the same 15 second ad first. same ad plays with each subsequent camera angle for the same play i want to watch. i don’t find this type of advertising bombardment acceptable even for free content elsewhere on the internet, much less for content from a government funded broadcaster

  • It’s amazing to use SBS world cup app and website streaming. I tried the apps on different platform and found seamless experience. Especially, the replay section provides highlights from different cameras and angles in the field. As a soccer fan this is what i really dreamed about.

  • tried to use it and found the stream slow, blocky and unwatchable.. insted i have been using my proxy and watching ITV’s coverage from the UK

    • Is there a problem with your connection? I’ve watched a few games via stream and was crystal clear HD and even watched a half via 4G on the mobile app and it was flawless.

  • SBS broadcast has been brilliant, like 21st century entertainment should be! SBS HD has great picture quality and the app is just amazing. Its a minute behind the TV but still works great, I can watch it at work, even in the car driving. And the replays with different camera angles are crazzyyyy! A lesson for all Australian channels to follow.

  • Incredible coverage. This, as others have already mentioned, is how all sports should be broadcast in the year 2014. The quality is stunning.

  • I love the ability to be able to make the decision at 2 am whether I go down to the TV to watch, or stream from the warmth of my bed to my ipad.

  • Loving the High Definition!!!!!! See Channel 7 (AFL) & Channel 9 (Cricket), it is not that hard to broadcast sport on both your Standard Definition channel and High Def channel at the same time.

  • SBS has been really really good with the 2014 world cup coverage, the television, the website and the apps are easy to use and well crafted. To top it off its free service. People whine and complain about stuff but I say, hey why complain when you’re getting better service for free, I agree sometimes ad’s are annoying but the company has to survive on some kind of revenue to continue to provide the best service they can offer. So all in all a win win situation for customers as well as broadcasters. Thank you SBS, staying on the topic of thanking, thank you too LH, you guys are awesome!!! keep up the good work

  • I’ve been streaming on the PS4 with my horribly slow internet connection (I’m the furthest house from the exchange, i can’t even usually stream a 360p video on youtube without it stuttering.

    Having said that, Streaming the world cup has provided the only stutter free streaming experiences I have had in the past 6 months, and the app design on the phone is excellent aswell. Possibly a timing thing since its 3am, But hey, It works and gives me better quality picture than the TV does.

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