Spark Sport's dress-rehearsal for the Rugby World Cup continues to be wobbly at times, while rival Sky Sport Now seems to have had a solid debut.

The new streaming service's second weekend of English Premier League football saw problems with the Arsenal vs Burnley match, which suffered video and audio cut-outs for 14 minutes.

On the opening weekend, a satellite glitch turned the second half of Spark Sport's Manchester City-West Ham clash into a blizzard.

But a fix put in place for that issue inadvertently caused this weekend's foul up.

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"Last week, we had an issue where the feed was unavailable on the Manchester City v West Ham match due to a satellite issue," a Spark Sport spokeswoman said.

"As a result, this week we increased the number of back up feeds that we carry for a match, to ensure that we are quickly able to switch to a different feed if there is satellite interference.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino discusses the nuances of VAR with Man City boss Pep Guardiola during Saturday's 2-2 draw - City's first dropped points at home since Christmas. Photo / Getty
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino discusses the nuances of VAR with Man City boss Pep Guardiola during Saturday's 2-2 draw - City's first dropped points at home since Christmas. Photo / Getty

"However, following this change, the international distribution network that collects source feeds and shares them to [Spark Sport streaming platform] iStreamPlanet was not correctly configured to receive the number of streams that were being fed to it last night. This caused the issue that customers experienced during the Arsenal v Burnley match."

A permanent fix is now in place, and other matches streamed successfully, she said.

As with an earlier "human error" scheduling stuff up at iStreamPlanet that ruined a Black Sticks game, Spark is discovering that the world of international sports broadcasting and streaming has a lot of moving parts - and that its subscribers expect it to manage them all and are not particularly sympathetic to excuses that blame others.

And in terms of the Premier League - unfortunately for Spark, the two streams that have fallen over have both been marquee games. There was keen interest in whether defending champions could get off to a flyer. And Arsenal was a Big Six club up against Burnley - a favourite with neutrals by dint of featuring Kiwi striker Chris Wood.

For this reporter, Spark Sport continued to stream well, with no issues as Man City stumbled in week two and dropped two points against Tottenham.

But it was another busy weekend for Spark Sport's social media crew, with a background thrum of general complaints - although it has to be seen in the context that there could have been around 10,000 punters accessing games (Spark has not released numbers).

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And there continued to be a steady stream of complaints that there is now half-time or post-match analysis.

For all its technical faults, previous rights-holder beIN Sports, had good offerings on that front, featuring top pundits and former players.

Spark Sport does offer extended post-match highlights, stats and interviews, but it's all a bit formless (I left Man City vs Tottenham running after what seemed to be the final credits, purely because I was typing, and was surprised to see interviews pop up from Sky TV UK, then some stats and interviews from the Premier League's production company, and various random footage of the stadium being packed down - together it extended the coverage to a stonking three hours).

How Sky Sport fared

Meanwhile, Sky Sport's latest streaming effort - an upgrade to Fanpass dubbed Sky Sport Now - seemed solid debut last week, when its livestream content included the Uefa Super Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea.

And it also seemed like it performed well during Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup test.

A spokeswoman for Sky TV said the All Black-Wallabies clash drew the following viewership numbers:

• 523,400 watched on Sky boxes
• 55,000 streamed on Sky Sport Now and Sky Go
• Around 100,000 watched the game on a Sky box in a pub or club
• 408,800 watched free-to-air on Prime

"It was the first major match on our new sports streaming app Sky Sport Now and we're delighted with the performance," the spokeswoman said.

READ MORE:
Sky Sport Now review: Is Sky's new sports streaming service a satellite TV killer?

One tech-savvy subscriber, Herald Focus journo Gavin Ogden, had the app crash on him, but the pay TV broadcaster's social feeds were largely free of gripes (a stark comparison to some of its Sky Go streaming efforts in the days of old. If you have any brickbats or bouquets, email me.)

The frame rate war

Sky has also claimed the higher ground in the battle of the frame rates, with Sky Sport Now offering 60 frames per second (fps) video at 1080p high definition to Spark Sport's 30fps at 1080p.

Spark says it chopped down the quality to help address problems with older laptops and Google Chromecast units. Its medium-term goal is to return its stream to 60fps.

Spark Sport subscriber Stephen Seque told the Herald this morning, "I literally cannot watch more than a few minutes of the 30fps video without feeling 'seasick'. I feel very let down by Spark and have just cancelled my World Cup Rugby package."

It can be done

Amid the lama drama over Spark Sport's teething issues, it's worth noting that it's feasible the telco will get its act more-or-less 100 per cent together.

In the UK and Indian, football and cricket are routinely streamed to millions. And across the Tasman, Optus (dubbed "Floptus" after last year's FIFA World Cup) has picked itself up nicely - and is now seeing streaming help prop up its core business.

So it can be done. But it takes time. Something that Spark doesn't have before Rugby World Cup kick-off.

Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Premier League match against Burnley. Photo / Getty
Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Premier League match against Burnley. Photo / Getty