Star Sports Review
Quality of Video Stream3
Content on Offer7
Value for Money10
With the EPL and Bundesliga just beginning, a lot of eyes will be searching for a way to watch the matches. Star Sports streams an enormous range of sporting codes, some behind a paywall, and others free. So we take a deeper look into this incredibly good value sports broadcasting IPTV service.
There is a lot of good going on for the world’s largest democracy. Amazing history, culture, scenery, of course food and a booming tech industry. So should it come as any surprise that this cricket-mad nation could also pull off one of the best live cricket streaming services in the world?
But how about other sports such as football? Star Sports has always had an impressive reputation within their home country for their cricket coverage, but this year it seems that Star Sports is also pulling out all the stops in other codes as well.
It is a bit unclear at this stage what events Star Sports will charge for, but at the time of this publication, both the English Premier League, the Bundesliga and the currently running Ashes all seem to be streaming for free. How long this will last, we have no idea, but why look a gift horse in the mouth!
Video quality is reported by Star Sports to stream in high definition, though keep in mind this is a live stream created for an Indian market. People outside of India and viewing through a Smart DNS service or especially VPN may not reach the highest quality stream, especially if you are located far from India itself. My own experience in Germany proved to be a mixed bag last year, with a fluctuating bitrate that annoyingly flipped constantly between 3770 and 320kbps.
This year however I am seeing much more stable streams, though hovering at an SD level of 2310kbps. I’d rather see a stable SD coverage than a flapping HD one, and so far the SD streams have been more than acceptable for a free service.
As for platform support, it’s low, and that’s being polite. The obvious web portal may be the first port of call, but there are also dedicated iOS and Android apps available – and that is about it.
Star Sports’ Home page is a welcoming entrance to their services, which does incidentally include sports other than cricket. But you can get an idea of how important cricket is in India, from it’s location at the first item on the menu.
You can create yourself a free account at any time, and watch the replays without spending a Rupee, but all live streams will require at least the most basic of subscriptions. Once subscribed, you will be able to select either the live stream or commentary (where you will also find statistics), either in a small window or full-screen.
The Commentary page is textual, not verbal, and is where you can find commentary highlights. As far as verbal commentary goes, everything I heard was in English which seems to be the standard if content is accessed from the English version website.
There are also buttons for Replays, Highlights or Specials, as well as toggles to bring up Scorecards and Player Statistics. There really is a lot of information available.
In additional to that, whether using any of the three video modes, quarter-screen, half-screen or full-screen, you will find a seriously cool timeline along the bottom of the playback window.
You can edit your timeline to include Fours, Sixes, Wickets, Can’t Miss and Your Voice. Divided by sessions, you can easily and quickly jump between highlights to replay that fallen wicket or great shot. This is one of the easiest ways to instantly find important moments during the match, and there is no need to worry about missing the game as you can quickly return to the match by clicking the GO LIVE button.
Video quality will vary depending on your location and Internet pipeline to India along with your available bandwidth. Sadly there is no way to manually adjust the video quality, so you are relying on Star Sport’s own determination on the quality of your stream. I personally had a lot of trouble on the web platform to sustain a high quality feed. At it’s best, I saw a 3770kbps* pipe into my router’s Ethernet port, but at its worst, it was as low as 320kbps*. To be honest, at least with the web version of Star Sports, it spent more time hanging around the lower end.
- Fantastic range of stats, details and information.
- Great idea with the timeline.
- Very good video quality if you are not too far from India.
- Three different video size modes.
- Easy access to replays for older matches.
Star Sports iMac TimelineStar Sports iMac ScorecardStar Sports iMac PlayerStatsStar Sports iMac Play2Star Sports iMac Play1Star Sports iMac MiniScorecardStar Sports iMac Browser
- Video quality can drop to atrocious levels.
- No pop-out window.
- Not the most sofa-friendly experience.
This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:
Star Sports provide a free iOS app from the Indian iTunes store, but it is important to keep in mind that the Cricket World Cup is not accessible from the event subscription, only from the single day, or monthly All Sports sub.
The two top buttons at the Home screen is where all the action can be controlled, with the main menu on the left which can select the sporting code, settings, and notifications, and the right-hand menu concentrating on various events including the Cricket World Cup.
Here you’ll find videos with either Live, Replays, Highlights or Specials, and at the bottom of the screen you can flick between Scores (Results & Fixtures), Articles and Standings. It really is a one-stop shop for everything you may need for the World Cup.
The real magic begins once the match does as well, with an enormous plethora of statistics and information available, much like the website version.
At the bottom of the screen is an expandable timeline which can list Fours, Sixes, Wickets, Stats and more, whilst top-screen buttons toggles the display of (written) Commentary, an expandable Scorecard and Player Statistics.
Video quality was far more stable than my tests via a web browser, which is odd since the iMac was connected by Ethernet and the iPad only by WiFi, so it just goes to show how nothing in life can be guaranteed. Testing replays, I managed an impressive 4540kbps* average, and for live events, 2710 kbps*. I still experienced moments where the video dropped to quite low levels, but there were much fewer incidences and they lasted shorter.
As for AirPlay, I had success via the iPad’s control panel, as there is no direct button on the playback screen, but it was a little finicky at times. When I could get a video to airplay across to the big TV, I could switch off the iPad without affecting the stream, but I could not multitask – so the iOS device can not be used for anything else while the cricket is playing – a somewhat major oversight by Star Sports considering how long cricket matches tend to last for.
- Far better and more stable video than via the web browser.
- Excellent use of statistics.
- Includes other sports.
StarSports iPad VideosStarSports iPad ScoresStarSports iPad ScorecardStarSports iPad PlayerStatsStarSports iPad PlaybackStarSports iPad MenuStarSports iPad FeaturedStarSports iPad Commentary
- AirPlay was finicky and there was no multitasking.
- There is no global list of all live events.
- UI can be a little confusing.
- No Chromecast support.
This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:
Cricket is the world’s second largest sport by popularity, at least according to certain figures, and the Cricket World Cup is the third most viewed event after the Fifa World Cup and Summer Olympics. But there still are plenty of places in the world where not only is it difficult to watch live matches, it can be downright impossible.
Star Sports offers an amazing service in India, which really shouldn’t come as a surprise since cricket is the most popular sport in this country of 1.2billion people. With a good connection to the nation, you can expect high quality streams, English language commentary and enough stats to keep every cricket fan happy.
Add into the mix an almost impossibly low price tag and it just sounds too good to be true.
In all honesty, for those in India, it’s not. As long as you have a good enough pipe to the country as well, you should also have a very good service. The catch is when you are half a world away where video quality may begin to suffer.
And then there is the extremely conservative device list, which consists of nothing more than web browsers for the Cricket World Cup package, and additional iOS or Android apps for the All Sports package. Not a single set-top-box in sight. If the iOS app didn’t airplay (and sometimes it actually doesn’t), there would be no way bar an HDMI cable from the laptop to watch the cricket on a real TV.
Still, for a couple of dollars it is almost certainly worth a try, especially since a good SmartDNS service will only set you back US$5 a month as well – and that gets you a lot more than just the cricket. If you live in a region where it is impossible to watch the Cricket World Cup or other major events live then this may be the best option around. Who knows, if your bandwidth to India is good enough, you could be enjoying a whole season of this great sport.
- (Potentially) Great video quality if your proximity to India is not too far away.
- Incredible price.
- English language commentary.
- Fantastic set of stats.
- Full match replays.
- Two concurrent streams allowed.
- Long periods of shocking video quality when outside of India may be experienced.
- Only basic platform support.
- AirPlay can be finicky.
10.07.2013: Review published. Score – 7.2: Great if your bandwidth is up to it.
15.07.2013: Score dropped to 6.8 due to poor video quality outside of India and poor handling of dynamic bitrate.
10.02.2015: iOS review added and full overhaul. Score adjusted to 6.
11.02.2015: Further updates to web review.
14.08.2015: Began updating for general sports review.
* video quality results are averaged from multiple tests and may be affected by geographic location as well as available bandwidth.
This service is geographically unblocked by the following Smart DNS providers:
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