Optus claim is ‘utter madness’
OPTUS has announced a stunning backdown after outrage from fans unable to watch games due to streaming problems, but big questions remain for football fans.
The telco has been forced to allow SBS to continue broadcasting all World Cup games in the group stage, with CEO Allen Lew announcing yesterday that the public broadcaster could show all matches until June 29.
As a further act of goodwill, the telco also made Optus Sports available to all Australians for free (and will reimburse those who already paid) for the remainder of the tournament and then some, with the offer ending August 31.
However, when it gets to the round of 16 and the quarterfinal stages of the tournament, SBS does not have the rights to show all games. Optus is set to have two games per day, and SBS just one.
"SBS and Optus haven't made a decision as to who will carry which match," Mr Lew told reporters on a conference call yesterday afternoon.
"So as we complete the group stages, at some point of time as we approach the knockout stages, a proper announcement will be made."
Mr Lew said he was confident Optus would be in a position to show the finals games exclusively without problems.
"We have learned very import lesson from last weekend. If we do take it exclusively we will make sure that we will provide a good experience for all Australians," he said.
But not everyone is convinced.
Tech journalist Trevor Long was among the detractors, tweeting that the idea Optus would have all of the bugs sorted by the end of the group stage was "utter madness".
Optus execs were keen to point out that its network had performed better earlier this week after it allowed SBS to show games following a weekend that saw a torrent of online abuse directed at the company from angry customers.
Mr Lew also made the claim during the call. "Yes we stumbled on Sunday, but we learned a very important lesson," he said.
During his opening comments, he said the telco delivered games on Monday and Tuesday night "without issue".
However social media provided a different story, with a small number of users finding it difficult to access a reliable stream.
I tried to stream the 10pm game between Colombia and Japan via Optus Sports on Tuesday night and was met with the now familiar playback error screen.
When pressed on the matter, Mr Lew said: "There will be one or two people who have very peculiar circumstances."
The under-fire telco agreed earlier this week to let SBS broadcast four extra matches over Monday and Tuesday night after its streaming service dropped out on the weekend, causing fury among customers who paid $15 for access to all matches.
Optus will refund those customers but ultimately the 48-hour window proved too short a time for the company to fix all the problems experienced by users.
It remains to be seen if the next nine days, before the round of 16 begins, is enough to rectify the issues. But it's a tall order and the stakes couldn't be higher.