Viaplay for Sport Review
Quality of Video Stream8
Content on Offer8
Value for Money7
There is no reason to restrict your sports packages only to those from your own country, especially when our Nordic friends have on offer a rather impressive service called Viaplay. Not only do you get a great deal of sport including the English Premier League but also a fantastic on-demand service for television and films which I’ll keep for another review, first lets focus on the sport aspect here.
For the purpose of this review, I chose to test the Danish version of Viaplay for the following reasons.
- Overplay, supports both the Danish and Swedish versions of Viaplay, unblocking it from abroad..
- The Danish version was a bit cheaper due to the current exchange rate and still offered the Premier League.
For approximately US$40 per month (£26), in addition to all the films and television, Viaplay offer quite a reasonable range of live sporting events including one Saturday 3pm Premier League matche, NHL and PGA tours and plenty more, all available live with varying commentary either in English or Danish.
Now, I have to concede my Danish skills are not quite as good as my Swedish ones, and the only reason I can understand a bit of Swedish is the odd compatibility with German. If either of those languages are a challenge for you, there may be some minor hurdles to cross in signing up to this service. The webpage itself is only in Danish and although the signing up process is very easy and straight forward, it may pay to have Google Translate open on another tab just to get through some of the less comprehensive points. If you are geographically located outside of Denmark, you may also require a full VPN just for the sign-up process, although afterwards a good smart DNS service should be all that is required.
This doesn’t mean sport commentary will only be in Danish, although sometimes it is. It depends entirely on the sport itself with the Premier League in many cases broadcasted in English, as with plenty of other sports.
This is something to take seriously into account, as although Viaplay offer a free month’s trial on their television and film service, if you want the sports coverage added, no such free trial exists. You will have to endure the damage of a month’s service to make up your mind.
Still, with live video streams available in up to a very impressive 3200kbps, it may very well be worth taking the plunge to see for yourself. 3200kbps at 720p is a very capable bitrate for the fast action sequences present in sport simulcasts and you would be hard pressed to find any significant pixelation or artifacts when viewing even on a rather large monitor or television screen. Not all events are streamed in HD though, with many feeds still only in an acceptable standard definition quality. It won’t be as crisp on your screen, but it is still a pleasurable stream to watch.
Despite watching Borgen, the Killing and the Bridge over the last year, my Danish remains scratchy to say the least, and if I was hoping that would have made it easier to understand everything in front of me at viaplay.dk, I would only be deceiving myself. That said, watching sport isn’t exactly rocket science, and the names for the various disciplines don’t vary so far from English that one would get lost. It may also help that the word for sport in Danish is, well, Sport. (they could have been a little cheekier and used the other Danish term for sport, idræt). Having also explored the Finnish version of Viaplay, I can safely say Danish was a more comprehensible choice – no offense to our Finnish readers, but some may argue the originality of the Finnish language may have been taken a step to far.
Speaking of languages though, there is no guarantee that the commentary will be in English or Danish, with a seemingly random choice between games even in the same league such as the Premiership. It could be argued that the more popular the sport, the more chance the coverage will be in Danish, although even this theory fell through on occasions.
The rest of the user interface is straight forward and easy to follow and although there are plenty of content outside of sport available, those will be for another review.
Select the Sport option and you will have a couple of choices on how to navigate through available games, either by Oversigt (Overview or Schedule) which lists all the sporting events available by day, or the Live Sport view which is simply a more thumbnail focused approach.
Video quality generally ranges from very good to stunning for live streaming, with a choice of either the automatic variable bitrate or manually selected to various points up to 3200kbps in HD. This is more than enough to avoid the worst of motion artifacts so often prominent in sports or other fast action streaming video.
As is always the case, you can watch in a standard small window or in full screen, although the power of your computer would define the smoothness of the simulcast as much as your broadband connection.
If your smart DNS supplier provides the option, you may even be able to switch between more than one Nordic Viaplay service. Using Overplay, I could switch between the Danish or Swedish libraries, despite only having a subscription with Denmark. This could come in useful as they may offer a different selection of sporting events.
This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:
ViaPlay provide a brilliant iOS app for either the iPad or smaller iPhone and iPod Touch. What is interesting is that the app varies slightly between the various Viaplay Nordic countries and it is important that you download the correct app for your subscription. What is a little odd is the mixed use of English and Danish on the app, with little coherence on why some text uses the default language of your iOS device, whilst others remain entirely in Danish. Still, it did make it that little bit easier to navigate so I won’t complain.
The iPad app offers a very similar method of selecting live sports as the web platform, but if anything with greater ease and elegance. The front page of the iPad’s Sport section is dedicated to the Featured list, dominated by little more than great photo-links of which you can scroll up and down. The iPhone’s Featured screen is naturally not so busy, but both devices allow you to select either the familiar Live Sport list or the Schedule, which equivalates to the web’s Oversigt view. The default view will show all available sports, but it is also possible to filter this down by sporting code.
Video quality seems pretty much the same as through the web portal, although there is nothing highlighting HD streams over the SD ones. That said, feeds that were described as HD on the web browser did appear to be of significantly higher quality over ones described as SD, so it does appear that HD streams are available and working on the iOS app.
Unfortunately, unlike the web browser, there is no way to manually set the video bitrate which means you will have to accept the automatic setting. This is often the case with iOS apps and a shame, as sometimes I would like to be able to make the choice myself.
Viaplay also offer excellent AirPlay support with full access direct from the video screen. Sadly, there is no multitasking here, so your iOS device will have to dedicated itself to the task at hand, but at least I haven’t found any situations where AirPlay was not available as can be the case with Viaplay’s films and television offerings.
All in all, the iOS app is one of the better designed ones in the streaming and on-demand world and well worth consideration if you own such a device.
(A VPN or Smart DNS service may be required to access the content outside of Denmark)
This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:
Video quality is on the whole, excellent, with many streams offered in a very impressive 3000kbps or higher HD feed. Poor quality video can be very disappointing in any streaming circumstance, but few situations are more critical here than sport – and this is something Viaplay delivers well.
My only serious criticism would be the mishmash of commentary language. Remaining well aware that this is a Danish streaming service, I would not be too surprised to find Danish sport exclusively streamed in that language. But it is a tad annoying to find some English Premier League football broadcasted in Danish, whilst other games the same day are in English. I imagine this may be a bit irritating to Danish subscribers as well. I am a big supporter of always including both the original and local languages in all streams.
One shouldn’t forget that within the same package you will also have a good selection of films and television on offer as well, and with most English language content streamed in the original tongue.
All in all, Viaplay is a very solid service which won’t break the bank. It’s not the cheapest way to get great sport from around the world onto your television, but when you add up everything that is included, it’s certainly not the most expensive either.
- Excellent Video Quality.
- Good AirPlay support.
- Wide range of sporting events.
- Additional film and television streaming.
- Language can be inconsistant, with some content in English whilst others in Danish.
- Not all content offered in HD.
- Video quality variable up to 3200kbps HD.
- Platforms include iOS (iOS 5 or newer), Android 4.0 or later on selected devices (App available from Google Play), Smart TV’s inlcude LG, Samsung, Panasonic and Philips, although only Samsung has the ability to change country stores plus Xbox, PS3 & PlusHD TV box.
- Browser requires IE8 or newer, Firefox 14 or newer, Chrome 18 or newer.
- For a list of currently available sporting events, check here.
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