This morning was the final of the Tennis Australian Open 2017 between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. I am a Sky subscriber but don't have a sports subscription (apart from Formula 1 which can be purchased separately) so wanted to know what options I had to watch.
Eurosport was the channel that had live coverage of the event and subscribing to this would have put me out of pocket by an extra £10 a month. Not really a worthy proposition for the amount of sports I'm likely to watch on there. At the same time of checking this out, I was also presented with a message regarding the Discovery family of channels (which includes Eurosport) who are about to leave the Sky platform from the beginning of February due to financial disputes. This put me further off the idea for adding Eurosport to my package.
Luckily all of this was happening before the final got underway so I had some time to check where else I could consume the event. I first went to the official Australian Open website to see what options they offered. None was the answer. I then headed over to the Eurosport site and saw if they could offer me a pass. Turns out they did (at a price of course). £6 for a day-pass and £20 for a 12 month pass which was very good value for money. I was running low on time so went for the day-pass to test out the experience. Within 15 minutes, I had my account setup and was streaming the Aussie Open final on my Eurosport Player app (Android) and Chromecasting (yes they support that too) to my SmartTV. I was very impressed.
It goes without saying that I spent much of Sunday cheering on the legends of the sport which saw Roger Federer take his latest and possibly greatest major title to add to his tally of 18 grand slams. Awesome. It all got me thinking though about subscription models and what a great experience I had when dealing with Eurosport directly with the added bonus of not having to cough up more money for Sky. The Chromecast feature was a great touch and it's small things like this that add to the quality of a product. Oh, they also accepted PayPal.
It also got me thinking of Liberty Media, their recent purchase of Formula 1 and what options I would like to have as a fan for consuming the sport I love. I think MotoGP have offered packages such as a 'Season Pass' giving you streaming access to all the sessions from each event. I would call it forward thinking on their behalf but let's be honest, we're in the digital area and have been for many years. It amplifies the dinosaur strategies that have been used by Formula One Management in recent years and their reluctance to fully embrace the capabilities of technology and social media. I liked Bernie and what he has done for F1 but fans seem to have been left behind by ways of experiencing the sport. I'm encouraged by him having to step aside and let a media company come in and inject some fresh ideas primarily aimed at increasing the benefits for fans - not the shareholders and their pockets.
I would pay for an independent subscription directly to F1.com and would love the ability to cut Sky out of the equation altogether. Sky do a fantastic job so this isn't to do with the quality of programming but more to do with the monopoly Sky seem to have on premier sports. If Liberty can find a way to provide fans an alternative option for consuming Formula 1, I would be at the front of the queue. Different tiers of subscription could be considered with an 'Unlimited' option offering all of the coverage available and having less of a stranglehold on legacy/classic races and interviews.
I'll say again that I had a great experience with Eurosport and would definitely recommend it to anyone. It's definitely something I'd consider for the future given they have live coverage of ALL the tennis grand slams.
I've refrained from bashing the BBC here because there was a time when I woke up on the Sunday morning of an Australian Open final watching Andy Murray losing yet again to Novak Djokovic on BBC2 without paying a penny. Gone are those days though and I think since losing the Formula 1 rights a few years ago (which infuriated me), I guess I'm kind of used to them not being able to show/pay for major sports anymore.
A few links below on getting a EuroSport subscription and the sports they offer (and no they're not paying me to write this):
Finally, a great thank you to Roger and Rafa for putting on an awesome show of class today. They were both equally deserving champions given the injury difficulties they've both had in recent years. To see them both back in fighting form was definitely a throwback moment which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Also, an honourable mention to the other record breaker from yesterday - Serena Williams. Just wow.
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