The world is slowly returning to a close variation of normal and that means a return to sport as we used to know it with a hectic schedule in the next two or three months.
What’s coming up
The Black Caps have a cricket tour of England, which is followed by the inaugural ICC Test match world championship final against India in Southampton in June.
2020 Tokyo Olympics – yes they are still calling it the 2020 Games after they were postponed from last year – and they are scheduled for July-August
The British Open golf tournament is another event cancelled last year, but it’s back on the radar in July
The British & Irish Lions will tour South Africa in July-August
And the All Blacks will play in Australia in a three-test Bledisloe Cup series, with dates to be confirmed likely in August.
We’ll talk about where and how to watch these events further on, but first you should get set up for the best experience.
How to get the best out of live sport
There's a lot of live sport to enjoy – and to enjoy it properly you’ll want the best possible broadband delivery because there is nothing worse than seeing a spinning circle on your frozen screen while you wait for your technology to catch up to the attacking play you’re missing.
Before we get to speed, it’s also worth checking out your TV’s settings to make sure you’ve got the best picture for live sport. Today’s smart TVs have a variety of picture and sound settings depending on what you’re watching – terms like normal/standard, cinema, dynamic/vivid, sport are commonly used. The irony is that the sport settings are often not that great. They change the colour, contrast, brightness and sharpness settings and really make the picture pop. But often the colours can be too bright, unnatural and glaring for many. Watching in cinema or natural mode might actually be better at night (if you’re in a brightly lit room during the day then a more dynamic picture might be helpful).
One good thing sport mode does is add motion smoothing – this artificially adds frames to the live shot to stop fast-movement from looking too jerky. So, if you turn off sports mode for a more natural look, then go to the menu, find picture and scroll down to turn on motion smoothing.
But the most important thing by far is your broadband reliability and speed.
Think about your connection
Remember. Dedicated internet connections like fibre are always best for watching live sport and streaming content, this is because your connection is yours alone so you will get consistent quality, no matter what time of the day and however many people in your area are online. If you're on a fixed wireless or mobile connection, when there’s a big sporting event on and lots of people are watching at the same time it will interfere with the delivery as with fixed wireless connections, you share the network.
Check if fibre's available at your address using Chorus' broadband checker.
If you want to make the most out of your fibre connection - connect your modem via a cable to your TV. If that's not an option, then invest in a good router, which ensures the best wifi signal around your home. Most modern modems have two bands – 2.4GHz and 5Ghz. The latter is faster but doesn’t reach as far or go through walls as easily, while 2.4Ghz is slower but has a better range and can go through walls more easily. You can adjust which devices connect to which band to spread the load.
How many megabits do you need?
The number you’re looking for is measured in Mbps – megabits per second – and the more of them you have the better.
To find out your current internet speed, take Chorus' speed test.
Here’s a rough guide to bandwidth
1-3 Mbps: The bare minimum to surf the web and send emails in a one or two-person house. You will not enjoy sport.
6–10 Mbps: The minimum you need to enjoy Netflix and YouTube. Online gaming is OK in this range, but if multiple people are using the same connection it will slow everything down.
10-15 Mbps: Most and content and online games will come to you with noticeable delay. But if you’re wanting to watch sport and you have three teenagers watching their own YouTube videos or playing games, a Beauden Barrett stutter-step will turn into just a stutter.
15–20 Mbps: Fast enough to handle most household demands but it you want to get into Ultra HD streaming you will encounter problems. And again, when everyone in the house is on a different device it may not be enough. Spark Sport, for instance, says 15Mbps is the minimum requirement for HD sport.
25 Mbps: The baseline new normal. At these speeds the entire clan can stream videos, play games and watch sport at the same time. If you want to stream Ultra HD, your plan has to deliver at least this.
100 Mbps: You see these speeds advertised for ultra-fast broadband (UFB) but word of warning, these are often “up to 100Mbps” – your average will be lower across the day. But it should always be above 25Mbps and usually much higher. Investing in this level now, however, means you’ll be ready for whatever content comes next. And if you’ve got an 8K TV you’ll need it to watch the Tokyo Olympics, which are being filmed in 8K.
July 23-August 8
Sky Sport, TVNZ
Sky TV will have Olympics coverage across 12 channels including the streaming platform Sky Sport Now, while TVNZ will feature 12 hours of free-to-air action each afternoon and evening, with breaks for evening news show.
Cricket Test World Championship
New Zealand v India at Southampton
Spark Sport will have all the live action and if you want to be really canny, you can sign up for a seven-day free trial on June 18 and watch every ball for nothing. If you forget to cancel its $24.99 / month after that. Which is not bad if you’re into Formula One and British football. But don’t forget the Black Caps also have tests against England before the world championship showdown.
British & Irish Lions v South Africa - July 24, 31, August 7
All Blacks v Tonga - July 3
All Blacks v Fiji - July 10, 17
All Blacks v Australia- August 7, 14, 21 (to be confirmed)
Stream all the winter rugby tests on Sky Sport Now. You can sign up for a monthly pass for $39.99 and capture all the two big series that matter.
The Open Championship at Royal St George’s
Sky Sport Now