One of the biggest changes to my life since becoming a dad is the lack of control I have over my own TV. That’s right – my own bloody TV. In the past, I used to watch anything and everything I wanted. My weekends often comprised of back-to-back football games – it wasn’t uncommon to watch five live matches on a Saturday and Sunday, as well as catch up on highlights from the others. Oh, how the missus must have hated me.
Children change things though. Since Toddler L was born, I have less time and less opportunity to watch what I want. These days, I’m often glued to CBeebies or Disney Junior for the benefit of Toddler L. This is particularly true since being ‘persuaded’ to downgrade our TV package which meant I lost the sports channels – I’m not bitter at all!
I’m still obviously interested in watching sports – football, tennis, snooker, darts, athletics etc – it’s just difficult to get an opportunity to watch them. It was therefore with much interest that I agreed to review the Eurosport Player. In theory, this would give me access to Eurosport’s channels and the ability to watch live and on-demand stuff via devices that weren’t my commandeered TV.
Below, you’ll find my review and impressions of the Eurosport Player after a few weeks of using it.
The product is described as:
Eurosport Player is the home of Eurosport TV online. With a Eurosport Player subscription you have unlimited access to sports content available in the country you are connecting from. You can watch your favourite programmes on Eurosport 1 and Eurosport 2 in optimum quality via Smooth Streaming technology on PC/Mac and HLS technology on iOS and Android.With Eurosport Player, you can watch events such as tennis, snooker, and winter sports with bonus live feeds, and even watch up to 3 channels simultaneously using the multiplex function.
Due to rights restrictions, the events broadcasted on the channels and the videos available (replay) may vary from one country to another. Eurosport Player covers nearly 70 countries in Europe (web version) and offers adapted content according to local expectations. In the United Kingdom for example, you will have access to certain events not available in France and vice versa.
I was provided with a code to get access to the Eurosport Player for three months. To activate it, I visited the website (on laptop), found the bit where I stuck in the promo code and entered it. From here, I added some personal info and was given the option of selecting my favourite sports. And with that, I was in and ready to go.
Before diving in, I also decided to download the app on my Android phone – again, it was a simple process of finding the app in the Play Store, installing it and then logging in with the details I’d set up via the laptop. I now had the ability to watch the Eurosport Player from laptop and/or smartphone.
And watch is exactly what I’ve done! In the few weeks I’ve had the app, my sports viewing has increased dramatically. During January, we’ve had the African Cup Of Nations (football), the Australian Open (tennis) and the Masters (snooker). Obviously I’ve not been able to down tools and watch everything – toddlers don’t let you do that – but I’ve been able to duck in and out when I can.
I’ve really enjoyed having the Eurosport Player and have found it easy to use. The actual navigation on the player is pretty simple and intuitive – within a few clicks, I’d figured out what the player could offer me. Across the top, you have the main categories of Live TV, TV Schedule and Videos. As Live TV is arguably the key feature (and most detailed), I’ll leave that until last and look at the other two areas first:
As the name suggests, TV Schedule gives you a list of all programmes that are on the various channels. It’s very similar to any other TV planner – you have the individual channels which run horizontally, the time which runs vertically, then the programmes which are plotted on the lines.
You have a red line which runs vertically to indicate the current time, and thus which sport is currently being played. You also have the ability to click the event to find out further info, change the view to ‘Yesterday’, ‘Today’ and ‘Tomorrow’, view by ‘Week’ or ‘Month’ and search for a programme.
As you’d expect, I’ve found the TV Schedule to be simple to use and good at quickly giving me a snapshot of what’s on now and what’s coming on next. I’ve encountered no issues with it whatsoever, but could see additional functionality added in the future, for instance, the ability to set an alert for upcoming programmes so you don’t miss them.
The Videos tab allows you to catch up on any programmes you might have missed. When you click the link, you are greeted with a number of video thumbnails, divided by section – so, for instance, ‘Recently Added’, ‘Tennis’, ‘Squash’, ‘Superbike’ etc. From here, you can click through, browse the videos within that section, then watch them.
For instance, during the African Cup Of Nations, I’ve been checking out the ‘Football’ section so that I can catch up on the goals. This is really handy as I know I’ll be able to see all of the action within a few clicks – by comparison, I used to Google or go on YouTube, which often resulted in finding videos that had been removed due to restrictions. With the Player, if the sport is on Eurosport, then I know I’ll be able to find what I want if I’ve missed it the first time around.
In addition to watching previous live action, I’ve also discovered exclusive content. These are additional videos – often only a few minutes in length – bringing you things like latest news or ‘best of’ videos. For example, as you can see above, there’s a transfer news video and a top 5 Bundesliga goals video. As I no longer have the time I used to – bloody toddlers (!) – I’ve found these useful for keeping up to date with the latest sporting news.
With Live TV, you’re able to watch the different Eurosport channels as they happen. In reality, this means British Eurosport 1 and British Eurosport 2, along with 15 or so other specialist channels like UCI (cycling), BWF (badminton) and FIS (skiing). I’m yet to figure out a full channel listing as this appears to change each day – for instance, I know I’ve seen a snooker channel and squash channel, but that doesn’t show this very minute. I imagine that the channels will appear and disappear as relevant content is available.
To start up the live feed, you just need to click on ‘Live TV’. This launches one of the channels and allows you to watch live sport pretty instantly. After a few seconds, the menu overlay disappears to give you a clear view of the action. From here, you can do a few different things depending on what device you’re on.
Firstly you’re able to see what else is on and change channel via a menu down the right-hand side. There’s also the option of doing things like maximising the screen or switching to a more simplified version of the screen. You can also skip back to other points during the live broadcast – 3 hours previously if I remember rightly. I found this a simple layout to use and everything is pretty self explanatory.
Live TV also features a few things Eurosport dub ‘exclusive features’, which can be accessed along the bottom. This includes ‘Multicam’ where you can watch the same event from multiple camera angles, ‘Highlights’ so you can catch up on anything you’ve missed, and ‘Stats’ where you can get the latest scores and real-time stats. It’s worthwhile saying that not all of these can be accessed on smartphone – for the full experience, laptop is best. In all honesty though, I’ve found some of these to be a little hit or miss. Let me explain…
I’ve watched a lot of feeds from different sports, but have yet been able to see the ‘Multicam’ option. I’m guessing that this is something to do with restrictions – either the sport or location – but either way, it’s been a shame that this is advertised but I’ve not been able to use it.
Similarly, ‘Stats’ has been a bit of a let down. Having worked in football stats myself, I was hoping for a lot of detailed insight but anything I found was basic. For example, the Alpine Skiing World Cup just showed the finish times, the Australian Open was player bio stuff and the option wasn’t even available for the African Cup Of Nations. I think this feature could be massively improved – there’s a growing trend for more information during live sport and this barely touches the tip of the iceberg. If improved, it could be really powerful.
‘Highlights’ has been pretty good though. Again, it’s not been available on all sports, but it’s been a useful feature to catch up on the main action. So, even if you miss the start of a sport, you can get a quick view of anything important. For instance, below shows the ability to scroll between and select the different highlights during a match in the Australian Open on my phone.
Something I’ve been genuinely impressed with is the picture quality. Like all streaming services, occasionally things are a little fluffy, but we’re talking like 2% of the time. The other 98%, the picture is crisp, clear and high definition. I don’t know whether it’s proper HD or not, but I certainly couldn’t ask for any more.
Cleverly, the picture quality automatically changes to match things like connection speed, so you always get the best picture available without needing to do anything. It’s also worth noting that I’ve had no issues with the sound quality either.
The final thing to mention is live alerts. I don’t have these setup as I get far too many alerts on my phone as it is, but these give you a little notification when something of importance happens. As such, you can keep up with the action or dip in and out as you wish.
The Eurosport Player normally costs £59.99 for a 12-month pass, however it’s currently on a special offer of £19.99 (ends 31st Jan 2017). You can also get a day pass (24 hours) which costs £5.99.
Personally, I see very little reason why someone would pay for a day pass when you can get a full year for £15 more at the moment. Even without this special offer though, a penny under 60 quid for a year feels pretty good value and is in line with most other streaming services.
I’ve been impressed with the Eurosport Player over the last few weeks of using it. In terms of positives, the picture quality is great, it is easy and intuitive to use and it’s been reliable – I’ve had hardly any issues with it freezing etc. It’s also good that you can use it on multiple devices so you can always follow the action. I’ve watched a variety of sports (both live and on-demand videos) on my smartphone and laptop which I wouldn’t have had access to without the subscription. For a fiver a month, it’s a great little app for the sports fan.
I do have a couple of suggestions on how to improve things though. In terms of functionality, it feels quite basic – obviously you don’t want it over complicated, but some of the promoted features are a bit lacking. For example, ‘Stats’ is very basic and I’ve not even been able to find the ‘Multicam’ option despite it being a prominent selling point. This leads on to my second point about restrictions.
Depending on things like your location, you may not get all the sports or all of the features when compared to other countries. For example, you’re not going to be able to watch Premier League football and might have to settle for something a little more obscure like Badminton. Not a lot can really be done about that, but it might mean you don’t get everything you think you’re going to get, e.g. ‘Multicam’.
Overall though, my impressions of the Eurosport Player are overwhelmingly positive. I’m able to access and watch a range of sporting content on my devices within a few seconds. This has ranged from sports I’m interested in such as football, tennis and snooker, to ones I’m not so bothered about such as rugby, skiing and squash.
I’d have no qualms in recommending it as a service. Interestingly, Eurosport are spending so much money on acquiring the rights for different sports – e.g. Wimbledon and the Olympics – that I can only see the Player getting better and better for us sports fans.
The DADventurer Star Rating
4.5 out of 5 stars
N.B. This is a collaborative post written with Eurosport. This review was written by me (Dave) and represents my honest opinion of the product. I was given a 3-month subscription to the Eurosport Player with the purpose of writing an honest product review in exchange.