- Cheap access to BT’s Premier League games
- Live scores and league tables
- Clips and catch-up content
- Pub finder!
- Chromecast access locked out for non-broadband customers
With the 2015/16 season right round the corner, we’ve taken a look at the BT Sport apps for iOS and Android. How are they for watching live games?
As we’ve said before, one of the cheapest and easiest ways to watch BT Sport is to get your hands on a BT Mobile SIM.
At the cheapest, these cost £10/month and let you stream live matches from BT Sport 1, the home of BT’s Premier League content. We tested the most recent version of the BT Sport apps for iOS and Android on an Apple iPhone 6 and a Samsung Galaxy Note 4.
BT Sport mobile apps: What can I watch?
What you can watch on the BT Sport depends on which BT services you’re signed up to.
If you’ve just signed up for a BT Mobile SIM or you’ve opted for BT Sport Lite with your BT Broadband package, then you’ll be able to access live streams from BT Sport 1.
As well as Premier League kickabout, there’s also live Australian Football League plus round-up and news shows like ESPN FC and The Ultimate Fishing Show. Yes, really.
As well as live streams, you’ll also be able to stream short 1-5 minute clips from a variety of sports. Right now, you can watch a recap of the now-infamous Rousey vs Correia UFC match, in which the former decimates her opponent in 34 seconds.
If you’ve signed up for BT TV, then you’ll have access to the full suite of BT Sport channels – BT Sport Europe, BT Sport 2 and BT Sport ESPN – through the app.
BT Sport Europe is where you’ll find UEFA Champions League and Bundesliga matches. BT Sport 2 is home to a number of sports including Premiership rugby, WTA tennis, AFL football and UFC fighting. BT ESPN is home to Major League Baseball, WTA tennis, College football, NASCAR and Indy Car racing.
Another bonus to having a BT TV subscription is that you’ll be able to cast live games to your TV via Chromecast. Helpful if you don’t have an extra set-top box and want to be able to watch a game in another room. A nice bonus, but hardly a solution for the living room.
However you’re paying for BT Sport, you’ll need to log in with your BT ID the first time you fire the app up.
BT Sport mobile apps: What else do you get?
Aside from letting you stream live matches, games, races and watch catch-up content, the BT Sport apps also come packed with extra features, like live score centres, race centres, league tables and various sport-specific news feeds.
There’s even a Google Maps-powered pub finder. This not only lets you search for the nearest boozer with BT Sport, but also lets you filter searches to include pubs that have beer gardens, WiFi and disabled access. You can even use this to find out which pubs serve food and real ale; CAMRA members, take note.
We’d prefer it if this would give the option of opening up Google Maps proper (especially on Android phones) but there’s nothing to stop you from copying and pasting the address manually.
BT Sport mobile apps: Minimum requirements
- iOS: Requires iO7 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
- Android: Requires Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or later.
BT Sport mobile apps: Streaming quality
The BT Sport apps use adaptive bitrate streaming, which means if your signal drops or there’s not enough bandwidth to stream at the highest quality, it’ll drop in resolution so you can continue watching. Click on the before and after shots below to see what we mean.
The maximum possible resolution you can get via the BT Sport mobile apps is currently 960 x 540 qHD (Quarter High Definition).
On phones with screens that pack in more pixels than this, qHD could look a bit weird – see our feature here for a detailed explanation of what qHD is and how it compares to current resolutions.
To our eyes, it actually looked OK on the iPhone 6 and Note 4. You can click on the thumbnails below to get a better idea of how live streams look on both versions of the service.
Quality depends on your connection and if you can get 4G in your area. If you are a cheapskate and you go for that £10 option, you should note that this BT SIM-only deal will only give you 500MB a month. If you’re streaming live football, you’ll power through that data cap in no time at all; stick to WiFi.
BT Sport mobile apps: Performance – how reliable is it?
In our experience, the performance of both apps largely depends on the quality of your data connection. If you’re streaming over a busy WiFi connection or you can only just about get some 3G where you are, you’re going to run into issues.
Likewise, watching streams on your TV via Chromecast will depend on the strength of your home WiFi network and how congested the 2.4GHz channel is. If you’re watching via Chromecast in an upstairs bedroom, we’d recommend using a Powerline adapter to improve WiFi coverage.
Some customers who attempted to view last weekend’s Chelsea vs Arsenal Community Shield match vented their frustration on Twitter about their inability to watch the game via the BT Sport apps. BT said that this issue only effected a handful of customers
We’ve not run into any such issues ourselves, but will be keen to see how the service stands up during the Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur game on August 8.
Occasionally, we ran into audio and video sync issues, a common problem that plagues a lot of streaming services like YouTube. Closing and re-opening the app in every case ironed this problem out.
Overall, we found the Android app to be the more stable of the two. Video streams seemed to load far more quickly than on the iOS counterpart.
Both apps would stream in low quality for a few seconds before switching to higher quality. Again, the iOS version took longer to shift up a gear here.
The versions of the apps we tested for this review are:
- iOS: 2.5.2 on an iPhone 6 (running iOS 8.4)
- Android: 2.4.0 on a Samsung Galaxy Note (SM-N910F running Android 4.4.4.)
You can download the apps directly from iTunes and Google Play.
BT Sport mobile apps: Verdict
The BT Sport apps provide decent-quality streams that adapt quickly depending on your circumstances. We’ve yet to see how the service stands up in the teeth of a big game, so we’ll update this piece and revise our opinion once we see how that works in the flesh.
Aside from the live streams, you also get a wealth of extraneous information – live scores, updates, league tables – and one of the best pub finders we’ve seen on any app.
If you’re after a cheap alternative to a pay TV package and don’t mind watching games on your phone’s 4 to 5-inch screen, then a BT Mobile SIM might be a good shout.