Australian fans of the English Premier League will have to become an Optus customer to watch their team next season.
The telecommunications company has announced its pricing plans for the 2016-17 season, with the EPL only available as part of a bundle with mobile phone or broadband services - and at extra cost for plans valued at less than $85 per month.
Those unable or unwilling to switch to Optus will have to be content with the one live match per round that will be broadcast free-to-air on Australia's SBS channel, as part of a sub-licensing deal struck in March.
Good luck Optus with your EPL access plan. Disappointing outcome.— Andrew Voss (@AndrewVossy) May 4, 2016
The plans have been met with an angry reaction on social media with fans upset at the lengths they will now have to go to just to watch the EPL.
Matches will be streamed over the internet and available via a suite of new mobile and tabled apps, the Yes TV by Fetch set-top box system, plus a dedicated website - but only available to Optus customers.
BREAKING: Sunderland, Newcastle fans in Australia praying their club gets relegated from EPL so they don't have to deal with @optus.— Athas Zafiris (@ArtSapphire) May 4, 2016
Optus with the EPL rights is like a mule with a spinning wheel. No one knows he got it, and danged if he knows how to use it!— Rudi Edsall (@RudiEdsall) May 4, 2016
Optus EPL broadcast deal got me like pic.twitter.com/H68eHJsLlc— Shayne Hope (@shayne_hope) May 4, 2016
there's just absolutely no chance i'm switching to Optus for EPL. sorry guys you bottled it. #aleague + BeIN enough for me on Foxtel.— Vince Rugari (@VinceRugari) May 3, 2016
Streaming the EPL will not count towards mobile or data allowances.
For new or existing customers with an Optus plan below $85 per month, the EPL will come at an additional $15 cost per month.
Satelite options will also be available to those with an insufficient internet connection, while the telco has also opened up expressions of interest for venues keen to continue screening matches.
Optus secured the exclusive digital and broadcast rights to the EPL in Australia last November, shocking rivals with a reported $189 million bid.
It had long been suspected that Optus would seek to boost their consumer base by leveraging the EPL rights.
Foxtel, the current Australian rights holders, have responded by adding three BeIN Sports channels to the standard sports pack, which include several top-line European leagues, and is also reportedly trying to reach deals with EPL sides to screen the TV channels run by the clubs themselves.