Seven took a rubbish corporate deal with Optus 5G, over streaming you the Tokyo Olympics in 4K

Image credit: Tokyo 2020 Facebook page

The Seven Network has the rights for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The event will be captured in stunning 4K quality. By now, you’ve likely invested in a lovely big 4K TV and you’re all set to watch the Olympics in 4K right?

Wrong. Chances are that when the 2020 Summer Olympics rolls around (starting on Friday, 24th July and ends on Sunday, 9th August), you’ll only be watching in HD.

Seven’s marketing boffins got together with Optus and came up with a rubbish promotion for 5G, that artificially restricts 4K streaming to customers on Optus’ 5G Network (basically nobody at this point).

Seven’s coverage of Tokyo 2020 in 4K will be exclusively available to Optus 5G Home customers via Fetch. I can’t think of a worse example of artificially restricting technology in a business deal that really hurts consumers.

When Australia invested billions of dollars into the NBN to upgrade our nation’s Internet connections, it’s exactly this kind of experience that it was supposed to support.

Image credit: Tokyo 2020 Facebook page

Part of the blame for these shenanigans needs to go to the IOC who sell the broadcast and streaming rights to the highest bidder. They should mandate this crap can’t happen. Buy the rights, stand up a service where you can get people to pay for it, or subsidise with ads, but don’t artificially limit it like this.

Who Seven decided to quote in the press release for this news speaks volumes about their motivations.. The Chief Revenue Officer, not the director of sports, or CTO, basically the money guy – Ick.

“This will be the most-watched Olympics and the biggest digital event in Australian streaming history. Seven’s coverage of the Olympics will be unprecedented, and with time zones differing by only one-hour, Tokyo 2020 will feel like a home Games for Australians.

As our Australian athletes go for gold, Seven will be supporting them every step of the way, and through an exclusive partnership with Optus we will be able to deliver live event coverage in 4K Ultra HD exclusively to Optus 5G Home customers with Fetch Mighty set top boxes.”

Seven West Media Chief Revenue Officer, Kurt Burnette

Optus recently launched 5G in the home and on the mobile is has 300 5G enabled-sites in Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth as well as other key locations in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. There are plans for 1200 sites by March 2020.

Optus is a long-term sponsor of the Australian Olympic team and is looking forward to working with Seven, the Official Rights Holder Broadcaster to create a new pop-up 4K Ultra HD Linear Live streamed channel that will showcase the best premium live events from Seven’s coverage of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Image credit: Tokyo 2020 Facebook page

“A partnership with Seven will allow us to showcase the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in 4K Ultra HD for the first time over a 5G network in Australia to Fetch Mighty customers.

This exclusive partnership is another element of our 5G ‘Video Experience Network’ which will allow us to ensure end-to-end delivery of 4K Ultra HD Video content to exclusive Optus customers.

Australian’s appetite for 4K Ultra HD Video content is growing with anticipation following the launch of Optus 5G and we continue to work with premium Video On Demand content partners to build out their 4K Ultra HD offerings.

Optus VP Product Development, TV and Content, Clive Dickens

To access the 4K Ultra HD channel of Seven’s coverage of Tokyo 2020, Optus customers will be required to have a Fetch Mighty, with an active Fetch subscription, a 4K-ready television and Optus 5G home broadband plan.

“Australians love their sport, and many have invested heavily in-home theatre systems to ensure the biggest and best possible viewing experience. The Olympic games represents the pinnacle in sports viewing, and Seven is set to provide unprecedented access during the 3 weeks of the Olympic Games.

As a result of this partnership, Optus subscribers with a Fetch Mighty will be in for a special treat, with access for the first time ever to a 4K Ultra HD channel streaming Seven’s coverage of the Olympics. We are delighted to work with Optus and Seven on this ground-breaking initiative.”

Fetch CEO, Scott Lorson

I really enjoy watching live sports and I really enjoy the Olympics. Regardless of that enjoyment, there’s no scenario where I switch to Optus and get a Fetch box. So basically the whole thing feels very anti-consumer and the best quality we could hope for is HD.

Much of the Rio Olympics back in 2016 was still broadcast in SD, 4 years on, I had much higher hopes, but looks like they’ve found another way to screw us over.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021


  1. Channel 7 ought to hand over the rights to a proper TV network if they can’t be bothered broadcasting 4K vision from Tokyo to Australians. Optus can go shove it.

  2. Hi Jason – Our Olympics partnership with Seven brings the first ever Live Streaming 4K Ultra HD to Australia.

    All other existing 4K content is either VOD cached in the Network/s or delivered by Satellite.

    We would love to bring this content to more Australians but until the NBM release faster speed packages for RSPs this will not be technically possible at scale.

    Currently only 5G is capable of the carrying 4K live stream due to the fact it is carried/encoded using very different and much newer technology.

    • Hi Clive, thanks for your comment. A little confused about your finger pointing to NBN. IPTV streaming in 4K is not a new concept and leveraging a platform like YouTube, creators can publish 4K lives streams with a single upload bandwidth, regardless of the number of downstream connections.

      This was enabled back in 2016 –

      If you have more information, please provide a link to it.

      • Unless sports are shown where participants don’t move much, and where the transmission is at a much higher frame rate than PAL’s 25fps, few people would be able to see much or any difference watching in 4K v 1080p. The Optus tactic is just marketing and likely be of little or no real benefit to its 5G viewers.

      • My understanding is that 5G comes with ability to do multi user broadcast on a single 100mbps band. So what this means is that optus can stream via backbone to their towers, and the towers can broadcast a single 4K stream that *any* phone optus 5G can listen to, kinda of line how TV transmission works. They don’t have to send the same thing to every IP address. This potentially means they can transmit 50mbps 4K to 1,000 people from one tower simultenously and only use up a single 100mbps band. On 4G for example that would have required 50×1000 = 50gbps, but towers can only do 2gbps on 4G and 10GBPS on 5G.

          • Yes, on FTTP only. Which made it effectively useless, so no content providers took it up and NBN ultimately cancelled it.

            This is why NBN isn’t making any money, it was never supposed to make money from average Joe’s $50 internet connection. It was all the business grade stuff and features like multicast which have now been destroyed by the MTM / mess that is NBN currently

          • Exactly. But it’s possibly not implemented in our version of the internet and Optus doesn’t want to spend the money to implement it – yet do not want to say it outright. That’s why its so maddening and basically a ‘lie’.

    • 4K streaming only requires 25 Mbit of throughput, why “is only Optus 5G capable” of supplying this? Optus couldn’t even stream the World Cup properly and that was 1080P. I wouldn’t trust Optus to run a chook raffle.

    • Clive, surely this does not make sense?

      1) 100 mbit is enough for 4K streaming and FTTP already have access to higher speed options for a cost- still their option
      2) By the time this event is available the NBN will have higher speed options available – May 2020 I believe these options become available to RSP’s

      It is clearly about providing Optus with a marketing object to push their 5G product which will never be available at the same scale as NBN and additionally will be debatably able to deliver in many areas once it scales itself.

    • Currently only 5G is capable of the carrying 4K live stream due to the fact it is carried/encoded using very different and much newer technology.

      This excuse might work for people who have no idea about technology, but here it isn’t going to slide.

    • Clive, Seven can broadcast h265 4K on the vacant “6th channel” in FTA terrestrial VHF/UHF, this doesn’t require 5G, satellite dish, or a set top box, just the same TV antenna people already have. The tuna/tuner is built-in to 4K TVs available in Australia. The FTA 4K trial by Free TV Australia has already taken place. Australia has the technology. Just switch on the transmitter to make the Olympics available free to air in 4K. Its not rocket science.

    • Clive – your response to this article is come here and lie? You would have better off not responding at all, than to come here and blatantly lie. Whatever encoding your are running over 5G can be run over an NBN connection.

      To be honest, unlike the author, I have no issue making this exclusive to your 5G network. I think its a great bit of marketing. But to dress it up with a bunch of technical bs goes beyond the pale.

      • Seem unlikely to be a lie. OPtus has already been badly bitten with pushing a sub par Soccer over the NBN (had to give it all away for free). They’ll be making sure the technology stacks up for the Olympics.

        But the truth of the statement is self evident. Optus will have 5G available for a tiny fraction of customers with the Olympics roles around. If they thought the NBN could be used they’d definitely expand the offer to all their existing NBN customers and to any new Optus NBN customers. That would be x1000 more lucrative than only allowing 5G customers.

    • If the NBN speeds were truly the limiting factor, it wouldn’t be possible to stream the F1 in glorious 4K via acestream. Either you’re full of shit, or Optus doesn’t have the technical know-how to implement 4K streaming properly. Wonder which one is more likely to be the case.

      • It’s a commercial decision based on the extra revenue they would get compared to the cost of making it available to all users over the internet. You only need 27mbs. which many, possibly even most, people have but probably require effort to make it work. Then we have Foxtel 4k. It can be done – they just do not want to do it probably because its not cost effective. So they do the easy thing with 5g that virtually nobody has and announces it as some kind of great thing they have done. Rubbish.

    • We can’t even get 1 bar of Optus 3G signal where we live, let alone 5G. But have got FTTP which can easily do 4K streaming – in fact we regular stream 4K to 3+ devices simultaneously in this household. So saying only 5G can do 4K live streams shows how much of a lie you’re trying to spread here. It’s just a cash grab.

    • What a load of rubbish! I’m on 100/40 Mbps FTTP with 3 ms ping – Optus 5G only promises 50 Mbps downloads. Please explain why my connection isn’t capable of handling the Olympics in 4k.

      Also – with regard to the NBN not offering fast enough plans – you are surely aware that in May 2020, NBN will be making ultrafast plans available (up to 1000 Mbps) for those on FTTP & HFC. Can Optus 5G match those speeds?

    • Errm, I could livestream 4K on a 50/20 NBN connection, so I don’t know where you are pulling this BS from that only 5G can do it. And speaking of scale, you’re just not going to have a massive 5G footprint in 6 months time no matter how much you try and spin it. The current coverage is barely something to write about. It’s going to take years to build up the kind of coverage we see with the NBN now, and you don’t need to work for Optus to work that one out. So while you’re getting excited about your corporate deal you’re actually shafting the consumer with this one.

    • Clive, how about letting all Optus customers stream the Olympics at 4k from whatever Optus internet source they utllise (e.g Optus mobile, NBN, cable, ADSL etc? ) via a Chromecast or TV streaming app.

      I understand Optus needs to ensure a return on investment, wouldn’t it be better to open it up to all your customers, not just the small number utilising 5G located in very small percentage of your network?

      I have a NBN 100Mbps plan which works perfectly, and if for some reason there is congestion the quality automatically adjusts. .

    • Lets be honest here – Optus have the rights to stream this but don’t have the chops to unicast it to all-comers. Any kind of once-off standup CDN they could imagine would be smushed by 10000 x 25MMBps streams. IF for a moment you imagine it wouldn’t get smashed, think of the extra cost of interconnect you would have to put on to deliver this to even optus NBN customers.

      I’m not trying to defend optus here, but if they had simply said ‘a live 4K sports event of this nature is only feasible over a multi-cast delivery platform’ I think we could all accept that… Instead we get this kind of trumpian ‘5G so wow, how cool, much 4K’ness better than NBN mkay’

  3. Nice to see Seven still dabbling in rubbish deals after all this time like what was done with TiVo PVR’s over a decade ago…..

  4. Well if the NBN hadn’t been nobbled then more people would have decent enough speed to be able to stream in 4K, instead it is for the preserve of whoever is lucky enough to have a 5G service by next July. Considering the shambles that was streaming the football world cup, perhaps it is to the benefit of those receiving that it is somewhat restricted in number.

  5. Remember when Optus stuffed up the Soccer World Cup ‘live stream’ – only to be saved by SBS TV?

    World Cup: Optus brand battered by streaming fail, with still no guarantee of a fix

    • For me it is simple, I simply wont watch the Olympics. ABC did not want to do them this time round (On radio) as they could not justify spending over 1 million on it. Budget cuts??? Otherwise I would follow the games on there.

      Commercial TV is simply not for me. Money rules on everything and we get it in whichever way suits the “suits” in the accounts departments. Viewers interests are generally not that important as long as they actually watch the commercials.

      That’s my take. Had there been a one off subscription or package on offer for the games, available on any network, I would consider it. There is no way I will subscribe to an Optus service to get the games. I will simply drop the games and just watch/listen to the news bulletins.

  6. Last time, Optus had issues broadcasting the FIFA World Cup. We were lucky to have both Optus HFC and BigPond HFC. Dad complained as he was watching a major game and it suddenly stopped. I immediately switched the Fetch box over from Optus to BigPond, and everything was OK again. For the remainder World Cup, he stuck with the SBS broadcast.

    As for 5G, that doesn’t mean anything to us, as we yet to have that available in our area. Based on our mobiles, the best we got is 4G on both Optus and Telstra cell networks.

    I really do wish these companies would announce new tech like 5G when it’s deployed in MOST areas, not SELECTED areas. Then their announcements would have more weight. We would gladly adopt Optus 5G Home when Optus HFC shuts down in our area.

  7. And, once more, anybody not in one of the “major” capital cities is left out in the cold…

    As someone living in Hobart, I’m thoroughly disgusted by this artificial restriction. It’s starting to sound like a really good time to send my Optus TV Fetch boxes to e-waste recycling where they can actually do some good for society.

  8. I think people are getting a little 4K precious. We will be receiving FTA HD 1080 for free across the nation. Yet people seem to believe even higher quality should be for free. The fact is that buying the rights to the Olympics is astonishingly expensive (Apparently around $200 million dollars). Sure advertising can recoup some of this but selling chunks of access to third parties is one of the main ways to make it all pay.

    As for calling the Optus Rep here a liar does anyone believe Optus wouldn’t be making the Olympics available in 5G available to all Optus customers with a Fetch TV if they could. 5G areas will account for a few thousand households. Optus could sign up 10’000’s of new customers if it broadened the NBN to just include new Optus NBN customers (except it can’t)

    • if so the technical reason they gave is rubbish. I do not think people here are not literate enough to understand the real reason.

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