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2016-05-18

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Premier League rights: has Optus kicked own goal?

Optus has announced its offerings for English Premier League (EPL) viewers  - and footy fans are hopping mad. 

Optus acquired the EPL rights last year, at considerable expense, as part of a strategy to diversify its service offerings. EPL viewers, who had previously been able to watch EPL games as part of Foxtel’s sports package, had hoped that the rights change would only mean they would now have to pay Optus a fee to view the game.

Not so. Optus is only offering EPL access as part of a service bundle.

You can watch the Premier League for free - if you are already on an Optus plan of more than $85 per month.

 You can also watch it for as little as $15 per month - as long as you already have a postpaid mobile, mobile broadband or home (ie fixed) broadband subscription.

But you can’t watch it through a stand-alone EPL subscription.

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This makes sense from Optus’ perspective. Having paid big dollars to outbid Foxtel for the EPL rights – reportedly three times the price of the previous Foxtel deal - it now needs to use the EPL “bait” to draw more customers onto its networks. But from the point of view of non-Optus customers, this is a kind of blackmail.

And for those currently locked in to plans with other mobile and broadband service providers there is the prospect of having to pay twice to be able to watch the footy.

Social media has been alight with complaints from EPL fans.

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And consumer watchdog, Choice magazine, claimed it would be cheaper to fly to London to watch a game that to take up the Optus offerings.

Optus cannot afford to get this one wrong – and neither can its employees who have already been hit with one round of redundancies driven in large part by the expenses associated with Optus’ sports strategies.

Actual consumer response will become clearer when pre-ordering for the service opens later this month. But Optus will need to remain open to alternative pricing strategies should the current negative reaction prove to be sustained and widespread.

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