Australia's newest live sports streaming app Kayo Sports has a big 2019 planned with a host of new features set to be added throughout the year.
Kayo Sports has changed the way we watch live sport forever. The new live sports streaming app only officially launched on 29 November, but following a successful beta period, it sure hit the ground running.
For those fresh to the news, we have an extensive review available, a list of the 50-plus sports available on the service, and a detailed FAQ you can dive into to learn more. Needless to say, Kayo Sports – a sister product to Foxtel, sharing the same broadcast rights but built and maintained by a separate company – offers a dream experience for sports fans.
With a $25 price point, it offers the best bang for buck on the market. But it also offers more than just a streaming service. As well as the sheer portability of the service – it runs in browsers, on iOS and Android mobiles and tablets, Apple TV, Telstra TV and ChromeCast – there are a number of sports-specific experiences that can't be found anywhere else.
We've already got picture-in-picture, hide scores, splitscreen (up to four shows streamed simultaneously on displays sized tablet and above), key moments (flagged on the timeline), rewind to start, high-definition and match centre. But we can confirm this is just the tip of the iceberg. There's plenty more features coming in 2019, but what are they?
Predicted Kayo Sports 2019 Features Roadmap
The below roadmap of upcoming features isn't official and can only be considered speculation on our part at this point in time. But from our time spent intimately exploring the product, these are some of the experiences we predict will be coming to Kayo Sports and live sports streaming in the future. Will they all come out in 2019? We do know that Kayo Sports is expecting to build out its services quickly so it's definitely possible.
1. Live stats database
Any self-respecting sports fan knows that the game is in the stats. It's important for Kayo Sports that you don't go outside the experience in the hunt for stats. Not just live stats from the game you are watching, but historical data that can embiggen the viewing experience. How many runs has this guy got in first-class cricket? How many tries has this Queenslander scored? Which club has had the most peptides…
You get the gist.
We expect live stats to arrive organically into the Kayo Sports experience as one of 2019's first big new features. The UI will be particularly interesting, especially on mobile devices where screen real estate is precious. However, the big question is whether Kayo Sports has access to the yottabytes of data collected by Fox Labs, the data centre for Fox Sports. Or does Kayo have to collate its own data? We figure it's the former.
2. Fantasy sports
It's a big part of the game now for many sports fans, and if you told us you had never cheered on a player you dislike simply for the fantasy points, we'd call you a liar. Managing, following and comparing your fantasy team's successes and failures within the Kayo Sports experience is a 2019 feature we expect to see.
If included, it's highly likely this feature will be linked to the fantasy sports experiences tied to Fox Sports. So, if you currently indulge in an alternative fantasy competition, you may miss out on the fun with this one. Will this feature launch in time for the winter sport season? Fingers-crossed!
3. Kayo Sports original content
We've started to see the first dabble in original content already on Kayo Sports – look at the mini-game highlights packages, for example. However, this feature thus far relies on repackaging existing footage. It's not original content. Though with the launch now complete and money flooding in from sports fans across Australia, we expect some of those funds to be reinvested into original programming.
Content that can further set Kayo Sports apart. Content that didn't originate on Foxtel, Fox Sports or any other channel.
If this comes to fruition, it will be interesting to see if the love goes both ways. Will Kayo Sports original programming be available to air through Foxtel? Or will it remain Kayo Sports exclusive content? We suspect it will be the former, because – you know – they kind of owe Foxtel a big one.
4. More platforms coming to Kayo
This one isn't too big a secret, but it is expected to be a 2019 proposition. Currently, we have browsers, ChromeCast, Apple TV, Telstra TV, iOS and Android on the Kayo Sports platform list. We know for sure that the next cab off the rank will be Android TV. But there is more coming.
Expect native apps to appear on video game consoles and on smart TVs in 2019. From what we have seen in the past, the likely suspects for the latter are Samsung and LG. Microsoft and PlayStation will both be keen to get involved from a console standpoint, with the Xbox One and PS4 respectively. Unfortunately, Nintendo Switch is highly unlikely.
Netflix itself is not yet announced for the console, let alone the "Netflix for sports" in Kayo Sports. It's not Netflix blocking it either: it's Nintendo who wants to keep its system game focused. And since it's selling like hotcakes, there is no reason for the Mushroom Kingdom to change that policy.
5. Kayo home broadband and mobile broadband plans
While it's a bit complicated understanding the relationship between Foxtel, Kayo Sports and Telstra, these three sister companies are all part of the one larger empire. Given that Telstra is Australia's biggest telco - offering home and mobile broadband plans for just about every use case - a Telstra-Kayo broadband bundle just makes sense.
Currently Telstra allows you to add Kayo onto the same bill as your mobile plan, which might be a nice way to hide the cost from your boss, but it isn't a saving. We want a saving. A discount. And we expect it to happen. We expect to see Kayo Sports tiered plans, which include large amounts of data and high-speed allowances, with Kayo Sports bundled into the price at a discounted rate.
6. In-app chat
As mentioned before, Kayo Sports – like any brand – doesn't want to give you any excuse for turning off the app. When you're streaming live sports, it's often fun to be able to banter with others watching the same experience. This could be on Facebook, Reddit or the sport's official homepage.
In 2019, Kayo Sports would be wise to launch an in-app chat service that allows you to have that experience without heading outside of your live sport. How that could work is unknown. Could it be an old-school forum style experience? Or will it be more like WhatsApp, where you can engage directly with individuals, in private groups, or in public groups, with likeminded sports fans.
7. Viewer gamification rewards program
We're all, every one of us, well aware that when it comes to our favourite sport, we know more than everyone else in the pub. Kayo Sports may be able to help you prove it. Like most modern services, we anticipate the Kayo Sports viewing experience will be gamified in the future, attaching a points system to your viewing habits and app interactions.
On the surface this may allow two friends to compare their love of sport in a new, unique way. But it could also allow Kayo to dive into the idea of giving meaningful rewards for its biggest fans. Sharing sport shows, setting up notifications, posting comments and watching full games are just some of the ways you could be rewarded with points.
Upon reaching certain milestones, we could imagine you receiving credit on your account, VIP access to new features, cheap tickets to games or merchandise, and other such bonuses.
8. More channels
At the moment, live sports on Kayo Sports mirrors the experience offered on Foxtel, almost. You get the seven Fox Sports channels, three beIN Sports channels and two ESPN channels. Already announced, but yet to be fully utilised, is a partnership with Red Bull TV, plus there is the promise of eSports being broadcast at some point. These latter two channels would appear to be 2019 features, but will that be the end?
Missing Foxtel channels like Eurosport and Sky Sports could join the mix in 2019 as well, and there are a host of channels – online and terrestrial – from all over the world that could be partnered with and aired through Kayo Sports. If you're going to be the "Netflix of sport", a huge library of options are expected.
9. Update to Key Moments
While the Key Moments feature is currently available on the Kayo Sports live sports streaming experience, it's not all it could be. Updated manually by Kayo Sports' staff while the game is in progress, it tends to be a little late to the party. Still, the delay in the highlight appearing on the timeline is still a lot better than the many sports that don't get Key Moments at all.
No doubt it's an investment issue at this point in time, but as the Kayo Sports membership grows, we can look forward to seeing this feature improve through 2019. More sports should get Key Moments, and more "moments" should register as being worth of highlight. For example, in the cricket I was to see fours and close appeals, not just sixes and wickets.
Perhaps, on those sports not deemed significant enough to get a live updater, Kayo could consider a crowd-sourced system? Allow the viewers to flag a great "moment", and then get it upvoted by others to a threshold at which it's added to the official timeline.
10. Choose Your Own Camera mode realised
One of the more exciting features originally touted by Kayo Sports was the Choose Your Own Camera mode. The theory being that the user – rather than the broadcaster – could toggle between the camera angles and choose the one they desire. However, this has yet to be fully realised.
In 2019, hopefully this feature will get off the ground in all its glory. Imagine watching a rugby league game and being able to go into splitscreen mode, with the main camera on one screen, and the referee's camera showing on the other. Or being able to choose to watch an entire Nathan Lyon over from stump cam.
11. Better customisation options
If Kayo Sports goes down the route of fantasy sports, gamification and more, the entire app will need to be intimately linked to the viewer's profile. As part of this, we can expect to see a more robust suite of customisation options. The UI is designed in such a way it could easily adapt to deeper viewer preferences: surfacing sports you want to watch to the top, and showing them in a way you desire.
We would hope to be able to choose a "loadout", where the UI jumps straight to the set-up you like for each particular sport. We also hope that we can do more with the notification system. For example, can we be notified if any Rugby League game gets to the last 10 minutes and there is less than six points between the teams? Or be notified if any Big Bash T20 cricket game comes down to the last few overs?
12. Kayo Sports overseas
The one area where Netflix really managed to blow the competition out of the water was by unifying the entertainment streaming experience across borders. It's not an identical experience in each country, but as each licence comes up for renewal, it's getting closer to that end goal.
In sports, the water is even muddier. Tackling the global broadcast rights for every sport is like stepping into quicksand, the harder you search the more you drown. But you'd have to think being able to access Kayo Sports from overseas would be the number one request from members. But how could they do it?
Perhaps if Kayo Sports can find a way to partner with likeminded services overseas, or buy up the rights, in such a way that members can transition between countries without missing out on their sport, it could work. Or give a cut to local rights holders? We'll be honest though; while a desirable outcome, such lofty goals are too big to squeeze into 2019 we fear.