How to optimise your live sports streaming setup for Kayo
Sports streaming app Kayo is set to change the way Australian sports fans can be entertained, but to optimise the experience, you're going to want the best setup.
Although not officially branded with a Foxtel or FOX SPORTS logo, Kayo is a sister product to these television giants with access to the same sports channels as its sibling services. That means almost all of the live sports and sports programming available on Foxtel is available through Kayo. That includes multiple FOX SPORTS, ESPN and beIN Sports channels.
Kayo comes with a host of features (planned and available at launch) that are something of a dream for fans of live sports. It includes a picture-in-a-picture mode and a split screen feature that allows you to watch four different sports simultaneously on the same screen. A quick-jump interface that allows you to leap between highlight moments of a match or performance even as it is ongoing. And the ability to toggle spoiler information like the score so as to not accidentally ruin a moment you hope to catch-up on while channel surfing. The ability to choose your own camera view is also in the works.
While all of these features are a godsend for fans, the HD streaming and picture-in-picture technology can take a serious toll on your bandwidth and data usage. That's why it's important to consider your home and mobile streaming setup before signing up for Kayo.
Below, we've listed the best hardware and smart streaming solutions for those looking to go toe-to-toe with Kayo.
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The best TVs for streaming live sport
Kayo allows you stream in high-definition but not in 4K (for the foreseeable future, at least). This means it's highly likely that your existing TV will be able to make the most of Kayo's live sports resolution. You don't need to buy a 4K (also referred to as Ultra HD or UHD) TV specifically for Kayo. With that said, there are other things to consider.
It's a case of the bigger the better when it comes to watching live sport. When you're trying to track a small cricket ball flying through the air or watching a football match with the action scattered across the length of the field, the size of your screen really matters.
If you intend to make the most of the splitscreen features, that adds further weight to the argument for getting a reasonably sized TV. Especially if your couch is a fair distance from where the screen is positioned. If you have a 42-inch TV, for example, and you want to stream four sports at once, then each of the screens will be effectively 21-inch in size. That's small. With that in mind, a 65-inch television or higher is a good target.
The refresh rate of your TV is also critical for live sport. Measured in MHz, this defines how often the screen redraws the image you are seeing. And given the action and pace at which most sport occurs, the quicker the refresh rate, the smoother and more natural the sport appears. Go 120MHz at worst, 240MHz if you can stretch that far with your budget.
HDR or High Dynamic Range is another sport-friendly feature to look out for. It ensures a larger palette of colours and a greater contrast between the dark and light spectrums. In short, HDR adds to the realism and gives the athletes more pop as they move about the screen.
Along similar lines, you'd also be wise to seek out an OLED TV over the more traditional LED screen. OLED TVs draw on electrical power to create colours and tend to be a lot brighter and more vibrant while offering an even blacker black. For those mammoth sessions watching the Bathurst 1000 or an Ashes Test, they're far more energy efficient, too.
What is the best broadband plan for live streaming sports?
A reliable and consistent broadband connection isn't as crucial for traditional television streaming (as best illustrated by Netflix) as it is for live streaming sports. Of course, it's always the ideal situation to have perfect broadband conditions, but if a film or television show begins to buffer or phase down to standard definition in the middle of the stream, it's not terminal.
With live sport, issues like this can make it impossible to follow the action and even end up in situations where you completely miss a key play or moment in a live game. So, what is the ideal broadband setup for live streaming sports with services like Kayo?
Those who have read our article diving into the data required by Kayo will already know some serious speed is required to make the most of Kayo and stream four sports at once. A minimum of 31.2mbps is needed to pull that off, which is higher than the base nbn plans. As such a plan that offers speeds above this minimum download speed is advised.
(Note: Upload speed is not an issue when streaming live sports.)
Your live sports streaming setup will also churn through data, meaning an unlimited data plan is also a must. If you have the opportunity to connect to nbn in your region, make sure you research your options. If any ISP is able to provide a fibre-to-the-home service, that will give you the best possible connection speed.
For a detailed comparison of all your home broadband plan options, head to our hub page.
What is the best router for live sports TV streaming setup
The humble router must not be forgotten. It's an ugly looking thing and easy to stick in a cupboard and forget about, but ultimately, it's the gatekeeper to your Wi-Fi speed. If it is not up to spec, then all the devices in your house connecting through it will be suffering. Here are some things to consider when buying a router for the best live sports streaming setup:
Stay wired if your can
Rule number one is to avoid using Wi-Fi at all where you can. A wired connection will always give you the best live sports streaming experience. If you get a router that has a few Ethernet out ports, you can wire devices like a TV or console directly to the source of the internet.
Use the 802.11ac standard
Ensure your router works to the latest 802.11 standard. Much like the leap from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0, the leap between each Wi-Fi standard brings with it better speeds and improved range. The very latest standard is called 802.11ac Wave 2 (as it is the second wave of the ac standard) and is a must for the best live sports streaming experience. However, remember that it's not just the router, but the device itself that needs to operate at that standard. If your router is compatible with the latest 802.11ac standard, but your phone still uses 802.11n or 802.11b, then your speed will be bottlenecked to that of the lesser device.
Understand the AC rating
Most modern routers have an AC rating in their name. It will read along the lines of "Netgear XR500 Nighthawk AC2600 Dual-band Router." You want to see AC in the name, as that confirms the router works to the latest 802.11ac standard. As for the number after that, it's an indicator of the total bandwidth the router offers. Sadly, it's not as easy as the highest number being the best. The number is derived from the summation of the bandwidth supplied by all the bands on the router. So, a router with two bands but an AC1800 rating actually offers better bandwidth than a three band router with an AC2100 rating. This is because the two bands on the former are bringing 900 to the table each, and the three bands in the latter are 700 each.
As you can only sync your device with one band at a time, the AC1800 is technically offering better bandwidth. As a rule of thumb, the best guide an AC rating can give you is to ensure you stay above an AC1200. Routers lower than that are old and being phased out.
Router bands explained
The more bands your router has, the more frequencies your router can operate on. This is handy for streaming live sports, because older technology in your house can be busy congesting the 2.4GHz frequency, while you are getting a clearer slice of your internet speed on the 5GHz frequency.As such, never go less than dual-band. And if you have two big streaming devices in your house – for example a TV and a home video games console – that could be operating at the same time, consider a tri-band router. This allows you to split the 5GHz frequency up into two streams, allowing both these devices to connect to the same router without hamstringing each other.
A good brain
Like all technology, there is a brain behind a router that powers all its tasks. The smarter that brain the better it can handle the tasks you throw at it. As such, it is wise to compare the specifications of the hardware inside your router. The lowest you could consider going is a single-core processor clocking at a speed of 800MHz, and with 128GB or RAM. But for Kayo or any serious smart home experience, we'd recommend at least a dual-core processor running at a much faster speed, and at least 256GB of RAM.
Features to look out for
Naturally, every router manufacturer is going to try and wow you with its special features, using exotic names to confuse you. The vast majority of these are for advanced users or are the same as each other, but just use different names. There are a few that you do want to see on your router box, however.
- Advanced QoS: As opposed to just standard QoS (Quality of Servcie), advanced QoS means your router will be smart enough to work out which devices need more bandwidth than others and to attribute space in its gateway accordingly.
- Beamforming: This refers to a feature where a router is able to direct its signal towards your device, as opposed to just radiating it out in the hope of finding your device. As you'd expect, a direct signal is a stronger signal.
- MU-MIMO: Otherwise known as Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output, this refers to your router's ability to talk to multiple devices at once. As in, you can stream live sports on the TV while your child is watching YouTube on your phone.
- App: Many router manufacturers now have a smartphone app through which it can be controlled. This is a far more user-friendly experience when you need to reset passwords, check what devices are on the network or play with other key settings than the old HTML-based web browser system.
What about USB?
While not directly related to streaming live sports, do yourself a favour and opt for a router that has a USB 3.0 port. It's just seriously handy being able to plug an external hard-drive into your router in order to make your files easily accessible by the network.
Where to position your router
Finally, once you've got your Wi-Fi router of choice in your home, you have to place it in the right spot. Whatever is between your device and the router is going to impact the purity of the Wi-Fi signal in some way.Metal objects (fridge, microwave, copper pipes, steel reinforcement) and bodies of water (bath, aquarium, spa, pool) are big hinderers of Wi-Fi and should be avoided. However, anything in your space can have an effect.
The ideal place for a router is up high – above head height – in a centralised location with respect to your key streaming devices. This gives the signal its clearest journey.If you have a big house, or key devices (such as TVs) at polar ends of your home, you can also consider setting up an extender. An extender is a second router you position elsewhere in the house. Rather than operating as the parent router, it acts as a child, simply taking the signal and amplifying it again. This is great for extending the range of your signal, without setting up multiple networks.
For more, head over to our detailed comparison of available routers.
Then all you need is a Kayo couch
Once you have got all of the above setup to your liking, there is only one ingredient left: a really comfy couch. And maybe an esky full of beers, too. Keep a close eye on the finder tech pages over the coming weeks and months as we continue to follow the development of Kayo as it rolls out of beta and into a full launch.
If all goes to plan, your 2019 live sports viewing experience should be really impressive.
Compare more sports streaming services
Kayo isn't your only option for streaming sports in Australia. Use the table below to compare available services side by side.