I love the Olympics, but viewing it live is a pain in the arse. If you want to watch your chosen sport live, you have to go through a mess of steps thanks to the convoluted IOC transmission rights and the sub-par skills of TV networks when it comes to Internet TV. This guide will help Aussies who want to make sure they can watch all the sports live up on their TV.
Channel 7 have decided to create an online platform for watching the Olympics, with all three of their free to air channels (7, Mate & 7Two) streaming for free inside it. It’s on Android, iOS and on the web. They’re also selling a $20 premium pack that will enable streams of all the other sports that aren’t on their free to air channels. They’re free for Telstra customers (more info here).
Unfortunately, there’s no Apple TV app and the iOS version doesn’t support Chromecast (I don’t have an Android device to test Chromecast there) so if you wanna watch this stuff on your TV, you need to AirPlay with an Apple TV or plug your iOS device into the TV via a Lightning-HDMI cable.
If you take the Lightning-HDMI cable route, the image is a bit shithouse as It doesn’t fill the screen properly. It’s fine as a last ditch effort, but I can’t tolerate it.
If you’ve got an Apple TV, AirPlay works fine – but if you close the app or switch away from it, AirPlay stops working (e.g: you go to Tweet about that amazing gold medal win and the video stops because ya changed apps!). When it actually is streaming though, the quality is pretty good. The frame rate seems a little low sometimes (looks like 24fps instead of 50fps like FTA TV – please correct me if I am wrong) but the resolution is good and the bitrate decent enough so the image doesn’t turn into a shitshow during high motion periods.
You can plug a computer in to the TV as well, and watch it via the web. I found that the video player’s chrome (e.g: the banners at the top and bottom) wouldn’t go away (using Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome) and the quality wasn’t anywhere near as good as on the mobile devices.
If the Channel 7 app doesn’t do it for you, there are other options that involve using a VPN. I’m not gonna explain how to use a VPN or a DNS re-direct, it’s common knowledge by now, surely.
Other English speaking countries have the following apps (there are no dedicated Apple TV apps unfortunately).
USA – shit is fucked there. They’re broadcasting stuff all over NBC’s various channels. Basically, if you haven’t got pay TV, you can’t watch anything except a single NBC live stream. So don’t even bother.
South Africa & New Zealand – pay TV only, FTA broadcaster not streaming online or they’re just streaming their FTA channels, not blanket coverage
Ireland – The RTE app looks like an exact clone of the 7 app, but with the latency and constrained bandwidth of your video coming from the other side of the world, so there’s not much point when you can just use the 7 app. There’s the RTE Player app, which says it will have some Olympics stuff, but I think it’s just a live stream of the main RTE channel, not blanket coverage of each sport. When live coverage starts I’ll check it out and update.
Singapore – Toggle looks like it’s set up 4 dedicated Olympics channels in their app. I’ll update this info when the events start in a few hours and I can actually stream something live.
UK – the BBC has saved us all once again and via the BBC Sports app, will have every minute of competition streamed live. You just need to make a UK app store account, grab the BBC Sports app, set up a VPN on your iOS device and you’ll be able to AirPlay from the app to your Apple TV. Not 100% ideal, but better than nothing. The BBC iPlayer app is also supposed to have live streaming of Olympic events – but I’m unsure if that’s just live streaming the BBC free to air channels, or there will be dedicated channels for each sport. We’ll find out later tonight.
Canada – the CBC has released a dedictaed Rio 2016 app and it will also have every sport streaming live. The app supports AirPlay and the quality looks half decent from the on demand stuff I’ve watched so far. Again, once live events start, I’ll report back.
So to summarise:
* There’s no dedicated Apple TV apps for the Olympics (fuckkkken).
* The 7 app isn’t that bad if you have a dedicated iOS device you can AirPlay from to an Apple TV and are a Telstra customer to get the free Premium pack so you can watch all the sports.
* If the 7 coverage doesn’t interest you or isn’t showing what you want, get yourself a Canadian/UK iTunes account, download the CBC Rio 2016 or BBC Sport apps, then connect to a VPN/DNS in either Canada or the UK. Once you’ve got all that shit sorted, AirPlay what you wanna watch to an Apple TV.
* I don’t know about Chromecast/Android stuff because I don’t have an Android device to test on. None of the iOS apps I tried supported Chromecast.
* If you don’t have an Apple TV, grabbing a Lightning to HDMI adapter (get the official Apple one) and plugging it directly into your TV will do the job too. But with the 7 app, the video looks a bit shit vs. AirPlay