AFL iPhone and iPad App Falls Short Again

by James Duthie on April 3, 2012

A couple of months ago I did an interview with the guys at SEN regarding sports apps. At the time, the AFL was clearly lagging behind the standard set by the Australian Open tennis and Cricket Australia. But with the new season approaching the AFL had an ace up their sleeve – their new broadcast agreement brought with it the live broadcast of all games to mobile devices. I loved the concept! Suddenly I had every game available at my fingertips. So I was quick to jump on the AFL's $50 season subscription. However I was also somewhat apprehensive given the AFL's clumsy attempts at mobile in the past. And based on my first experiences with the app over the weekend, that skepticism was unfortunately very well placed..

To be fair, my initial impressions of the app were actually great. I fired it up on Thursday night while I was out to catch some of the Carlton v Richmond game, and got an immediate stream of the live action. The picture quality was good and the stream remained uninterrupted for the entire first quarter. If they could manage the load for a blockbuster game like Carlton v Richmond, it surely bode well for other games. Or so I thought…

On Saturday I decided to test AFL Live out on my iPad. After all, the primary reason I bought the app was for iPad viewing, which I planned to then stream to my TV. As a keen Supercoach enthusiast, I had an interest in the Adelaide v Gold Coast on Saturday afternoon, having selected Gary Ablett as my captain. But I was surely in the minority. It was perhaps the lowest profile game of the round. So I loaded the app up on my iPad, and waited…

And waited…

And waited. Which set the tone for the performance of the app for the rest of the weekend, during which I spent more time watching the load screen than I did watching footy. When I finally did manage to catch a feed, the picture quality on the iPad was horrendous, instantly killing any plans of streaming it a larger screen.

By Sunday I was perturbed enough by the lack of performance to see what others were saying about the app. It wasn't good…

It was a similar story when I ventured to the iTunes store to check out the most recent reviews. Only 4 reviews had been written over the weekend, but all were scathing in the lack of performance from the AFL's new app.

Now… I'm willing to give the AFL some leeway. I work in technology and I know things can go wrong when a new product is launched. But many others will lack my perspective, particularly when they've paid reasonable money for the service. The reality is that as soon as someone pays money for an app, they expert it to work. And when you pay $50 for an app, which is at the absolute premium end of app pricing, the expectation is that it will be flawless, particularly when the app is backed by organisations of the size of the AFL and Telstra.

There is no questions that the AFL's Live app was sub-standard in Round 1. The question now is how (or whether) they'll respond. I'll be watching closely this weekend to see whether I've truly been duped.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Phillip Molly Malone April 3, 2012 at 5:15 am

I am a bit annoyed as a Bigpond home customer and one that also owns a T-Box and Foxtel T-box and in fact the highway robbery style priced AFL on Foxtel on T-box, I can’t use the app on my Bigpond Cable Wifi on my iPad even if I wanted to pay the $50 for the service! I could watch it on the T-box, assuming one of my kids isn’t watching Nick! Hope that Telstra lift the no Wifi issue!

James Duthie April 3, 2012 at 6:41 am

Agreed Phillip. I initially attempt to connect via wifi on my BigPond home connection, assuming it would give me a better quality stream. But it obviously didn't work. Can't see the problem really as I'm a Telstra customer both for home and mobile Internet. So why can't I use the better quality connection?

But I don't think that's going to change in reality. I presume they're using it as bait to attract people to their mobile service.

Aman May 23, 2012 at 1:00 am

Ha, love it. I am glad you added my tweet to this post. Boy, it was frustrating using the Ipad app.

James Duthie May 29, 2012 at 11:17 am

It definitely was Aman, but they've done a far better job since Round 1. Have used it pretty regularly since then, and the service has been far better. Haven't had problems accessing any games since. So I wouldn't have a problem recommending it now, although the picture quality is still not great.

Judy Shepherd September 10, 2012 at 5:14 am

"The reality is that as soon as someone pays money for an app, they expert it to work."
Actually … The reality is that as soon as someone pays for any App – particularly a $50 one it SHOULD definitely work. 
Apps seem to have become nothing more that lazy programming – most don't seem to work well and many don't work at all.
But for organisations with the money and clout of both Telstra and the AFL there is absolutely no excuse.  Just my TCW.

Australia films March 1, 2013 at 11:03 am

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Dancing Peanuts March 21, 2013 at 6:42 am

I think I'd be hesitant to buy a $5 app without knowing if it was reliable or not, never mind a $50 one. It's unfortunate but viewing visual media in apps from handheld devices has a long way to go to match more traditional means.

Dawesi April 22, 2013 at 5:19 am

App also blocks you from watching it on a tv via a dongle also… so no streaming, then outputting on your tv.


Anthony April 22, 2013 at 5:37 am

Re AFL App – Cant even stream this extremely expensive unreliable content to a larger monitor via HDMI and adaptor! Video (but not sound) is blocked – -no doubt to force you to buy a Foxtel sub! Does the arrogance and second ratedness of the AFL end anywhere?Well this taken for granted sucker is getting very fond of soccer……………

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