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Telstra opens up footy app

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Telstra has surprised “Aussie rules” football fans by announcing that its mobile app will be available to viewers on all carriers for the 2013 season.

Readers may recall a not-so-veiled threat by Australian Football League boss Andrew Demetriou, who in 2011 pitched the idea of sports codes bypassing telecommunications carriers entirely once the National Broadband Network was rolled out.

At the time, Demetriou emphasised the AFL’s ownership of its content, a position he reiterated during the lengthy legal action ending in the High Court of Australia shutting down the Optus TV Now service.

It may be mere coincidence, but the AFL’s desire to get the maximum paid reach for its content seems to be fulfilled in the Telstra announcement, which states simply: “Footy fans on any Australian mobile network can tune in live to the 2013 NAB Cup on mobile and tablet devices for the first time following the launch of the AFL Live Official App, powered by Telstra.”

Telstra relinquishing its “preciousss” distribution exclusivity will pose an interesting dilemma for rivals Optus and Vodafone. Since fans will be subscribing not to a network but to the content – $14.99 a month to watch and replay live video – the two other carriers will probably be galled to have Telstra-sourced content appearing on iPhones and iPads on their networks. On the other hand, there’s always a chance that customers will have to upgrade their plans to avoid ruinous traffic charges.

The free version of the app provides live feeds of radio commentary, highlight videos, live scores and summaries and so on; the paid upgrade adds the live video and replays, WiFi support, and the ability to port the subscription across multiple devices.

The currently-available version of the app will provide access to most (but not all) pre-season games, with a March upgrade planned for the premiership season.

The app is available for Apple phones and tablets, and Android gear. ®

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