Let me start off by saying that I think it is fantastic that Bet 365 (and I think other betting agencies like Betfair do the same) have gone out of their way to buy the rights to many sporting events and develop a system to stream it to users. The more free live sport available to people, the better.
Having said that, there is always room for improvement and I think it is interesting to compare Bet 365's service to that of people-driven alternatives like Spvod.
To get access to Bet 365 stream, the first thing you need to do is register an account with Bet 365 which is fairly straight forward. Then simply click on the live streaming link, select your event and wait for the stream to start.
The streaming player is very nice, it's very clean and easy to use. It should run on all systems as it uses the industry standard Flash for its video player. So regardless of whether you are on Windows, Mac or Linux - if you have flash you can enjoy some live sport.
There are a couple of deficiencies. Firstly, there is no full screen option which makes it difficult if you want to hook your computer up to your TV and watch sport on the big screen. Another interesting thing I found was that it automatically logs you out after about 2 hours, in itself this is not a big deal but it did take me by surprise when out of the blue my stream just stopped.
The key thing about the stream though was its consistency, and this is the entire basis of my comparison. Is a continuous but choppy stream better or worse than a good quality but consistently buffering stream? While I was watching the Bet 365 stream I was asking myself this question.
Bet 365's stream, on the whole, was very consistent. For pretty much the entire duration of the stream, there was no buffering. The surefire way to determine this is to take note of the audio - the audio didn't cut out, but the picture was choppy (it was losing quite a few frames).
Spvod on the other hand has a vastly superior quality stream, but is forever buffering. Let me point out that I'm in Australia - so the internet speeds here aren't the greatest. But nonetheless I can only tell it as I see it.
Ultimately, I think Spvod is the better option. Despite buffering quite a lot, the viewing experience is better when it's running at 100%. Here's why.
Spvod is completely free, no registration is required.
The Spvod website, once you click on to the English version, could not be any clearer in terms of sports listings. I think Bet 365 and Spvod can share the points on this one - they have both got this well and truly covered.
Spvod can run on full screen mode - I think this is the real killer. Running on full screen mode, the picture quality looks good on a television screen which really adds to the viewing experience.
This is not to say Spvod is perfect - it too has a few flaws. The main one being that it only runs in Internet Explorer. I am aware of workarounds that work for operating systems other than Windows, but due to its proprietary format for all intents and purposes Spvod is "Windows only". Which for a Mac user like me... it can be frustrating to bring out the old Windows machine for a few hours when Bet 365 caters so well to all users. And as I mentioned above, it buffers a lot. Having to get out of full screen mode, hit pause/stop/play, wait for it to re-buffer and possibly restart IE on the not-so-rare occasion that the browser freezes... again, frustrating.
So my conclusions are that, while a very suitable alternative, Bet 365's online streaming service is still just that... an "alternative" to Spvod.
Don't take my word for it though, if you haven't tried Bet 365 or Spvod - give it a go and make up your own mind.
As a comparison, are are some screen grabs of the respective streams. In fairness, on a computer screen both streams are much clearer than these images make out (both of these images have been compressed, but both have compressed comparitively to the same level).
Spvod stream (Zimbabwe vs Sri Lanka ODI cricket match from Supersport 5, South Africa):
Bet 365 stream:
The Bet 365 grab probably doesn't do the quality the justice it deserves. Here is a screenshot of how it looks in the player window: