8 June 2023

Why can't I watch the footy overseas (and other first-world whinges)?

| Ross Solly
Join the conversation
tv with test pattern

Life’s tough travelling the world when you can’t watch the footy. Photo: shaunl.

For the latest in my occasional series of things that annoy me (aka, signs that I am growing old), I’d like to focus on my internet viewing experience while overseas, and why can’t I watch the footy while I’m sitting in Plovdiv*?

Recently I have had cause to travel overseas again. I have become quite used to the rigmarole attached to the experience, and every time I do it, I’m enjoying it less and less.

But these are first-world problems and I will not bore you with my whinging about being stuck at a window seat next to two travellers who downed a couple of beers very quickly into the flight, swallowed a sleeping pill or two, and then slept for most of the 13-hour journey.

I have trained my bladder to deal with these issues.

READ ALSO One of the Southern Highlands’ finest mansions, Glenrock, goes on the market

What I will bore you with is my inability to watch the footy while I am overseas without paying for it. To set the scene, I spend quite a bit of money, relatively speaking, to enjoy the option of watching sport while I am in Australia.

For those who really love their sport, as I do, you might subscribe to several viewing platforms. The AFL/NRL, rugby and soccer are all offered up by different pay providers. It’s annoying but definitely a first-world problem.

So the other weekend, my team, the reigning 2022 AFL Premiers, the Geelong Cats, led superbly by superstar Joel Selwood, were playing the Western Bulldogs. The timing of the match fell perfectly for where I was in the world at that moment.

But of course, there was no way I could watch it. Legally. And without paying.

Not surprisingly, the match was not being played on the local telly in Plovdiv*. When I went onto the site where I usually watch the game, it cleverly informed me it had detected I was overseas and would not be able to access the match.

I went to the official AFL website which tells me I can watch it if I pay for it. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s the principle. I’m stubborn, and I’m not going to pay twice. What other things in life would we sometimes pay twice for besides bad decisions?

I go online to see if any traveller much smarter than I has worked out a way around this antiquated and somewhat unfair roadblock to my AFL viewing. Everyone says to use a VPN. Especially people selling VPNs.

READ ALSO My interest rate just went up, and I’ve never been happier that I resisted temptation when borrowing

Sadly, most companies who have become so determined to stop people from enjoying watching their content while overseas have learned how to block VPNs. It’s another dead end in my quest to watch Cats v Dogs. I resort to listening to the radio call which, weirdly, you can access no problem at all. The Cats win.

(I momentarily pondered if I should be more concerned and outraged about how easy it was for companies to track where I was and what I was watching online, but I was too flustered by my inability to watch the footy to take these concerns any deeper.)

It’s not just the footy. Try and keep up with your favourite TV show you’ve been watching at home while overseas – no chance.

And here I was thinking all this great new technology was going to make our lives easier.

Plovdiv is a city in Bulgaria. I haven’t actually been in Plovdiv on this particular journey, but I have been there before. Twice. It’s quite a nice city. I used Plovdiv as my example simply because I like the name, and it sounds funny when you say it out loud. I am certain I could not watch the AFL on my computer in Plovdiv.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
Peter Herman10:41 am 12 Jun 23

One can join Kayo but that costs money
It’s also owned by Foxtel, so they are double dipping
Nothing is free these days…everyone is in for the profits
No wonder we are in inflation with all these corporate companies wanting their’pound of flesh’

Samuel Gordon-Stewart9:26 pm 11 Jun 23

James, rather than using a VPN through a business which sells VPN access, check if your home internet router has the ability to configure a VPN.

That way you would VPN into your home network and appear from that IP address, which won’t be geoblocked by your sport streamer of choice, rather than a strange IP address in a datacentre known to belong to a VPN provider which often will be geoblocked.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.