When news broke that a telco had acquired the Australian broadcasting rights to one of the world’s biggest sporting competitions in 2015, Optus immediately had a hill to climb.
After years in the reliable if somewhat inflexible hands of Fox Sports, the English Premier League was destined for a new home and football fans down under weren’t thrilled by the idea.
Initially exclusive to Optus customers, the telco found itself a competitive albeit controversial edge in the market. That edge however cut rather deep in the Australian football community who felt they were being held ransom to watch a competition many held far dearer than the local A-League.
If their divisive consumer model gave Optus Sport a hill to climb, a shaky launch quickly gave them a mountain.
Rather frequent coverage dropouts, delays in coverage and shaky picture quality in their first season at the reins poured fuel to a fire that was already raging. Social media was regularly ablaze with Optus employees helplessly attempting to put out the raging inferno.
Having paid over $50 million for three seasons of the Premier League rights, Optus simply had to start climbing the mountain of discontent and justify their significant investment. And climb they have.
Increasingly reliable live coverage, impressive mobile accessibility, spoiler-free replays and some quality featured content, set Optus on its way.
Fast forward a few years and Optus have not only retained the Premier League rights for a further three seasons but they are the only broadcaster in Australia with access to every game of the 2018 World Cup.
Though they have far from won all Australian football fans over with their improved EPL coverage, the next few months will offer Optus the chance to really turn the tide in their favour and they've started on the right note.
In a huge step forward coinciding with the World Cup, Optus have opened up their content to non-Optus customers for the first time.
A subscription of just $14.99 per month, available via the App Store and Google Play, allows fans to watch every game in Russia, live or on replay, and the five hours of original programming promised each day.
If you've been across their Premier League offerings, this content is definitely worth watching with former players weighing in on games and a generally slick production keeping everything feeling sharp.
At the World Cup, Optus Sport will have Mark Schwarzer and Michael Bridges offering their regular insights with Richard Bayliss, Mel McLaughlin and Jules Breach taking on presenting duties.
Though SBS is and always will be the sacred home of football in Australia, Optus Sport are offering an exciting future for the beautiful game down under and if this week is anything to go by, it looks like they're already learning from past mistakes.