With the Rugby World Cup now just days away, Spark Sport came close to keeping a clean sheet with its English Premier League streaming over the weekend - only to concede a snag with its Manchester United-Leicester coverage.

The Man U-Leicester clash, which kicked off 2am Sunday morning NZT, got overlayed with highlights from the earlier Liverpool-Newcastle game - causing a brief but fiery round of comments on social media.

"This was an accidental switching on the Premier League's end. They accidentally patched highlights over the match. It was human error by their production team," a Spark Sport spokeswoman told the Herald.

Spark wanted to get a corrected version of the game before it offered it on-demand - which meant it wasn't available for full replay until 9.30am - which set off a fresh round of grizzles on Twitter.


"Usually, if there are no interruptions, games are available on-demand within 30 minutes of the match concluding," the Spark Sport spokeswoman said.

"With the Rugby World Cup, this will be the same – so matches should be available to view on demand within 30 minutes of the match concluding."

Beyond the Man U glitch, which Spark said affected all streaming services taking the official EPL feed, Spark Sport had a solid weekend.

It even got a couple of bouquets on social media for its quality after video was returned to 60 frames per second - which were deserved.

The upgrade from 30fps to 60fps video at full 1080 high definition was made possible by Spark bumping up the bitrate from 6 megabits per second to 7mbps - and made for video that was indistinguishable from a traditional HD broadcast (older devices will still get feed a 30fps feed, with Spark Sport automatically chopping down the frame rate if it detects an issue with an older laptop or Chromecast).

It was a good time for the service to come right. A rambunctious weekend of EPL action saw Spurs dispatch Crystal Palace 4-0, Chelsea's transfer-ban turn into a blessing in disguise as Frank Lampard's young guns beat Wolves 5-2, Norwich's fairytale promotion continued as they stunned Man City 3-2, and Man U make club history by actually managing to net a penalty.

Spark's EPL coverage has improved in part because of the return to 60fps, but also because it's taken a full five weeks for football fans to wrap their heads around the setup and quirks of streaming.

The EPL dress rehearsal has also illustrated that fans - for better or worse - have little patience for explanations that involve stuff-ups by parties beyond Spark's immediate control. And in any case, the EPL experience has shown it can take Spark a while as a novice broadcaster to get a full handle on events (problems with the second weekend of EPL action, which saw Arsenal vs Burnley match suffered video and audio cut-outs for 14 minutes, where the inadvertent result of a "fix" put in place after a satellite glitch turned the second half of Spark Sport's Manchester City-West Ham clash into a blizzard during the opening weekend).

Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha (right) slams his torso into the hand of Tottenham's Harry Winks during their Tottenham Hotspur Stadium clash. Photo / AP
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha (right) slams his torso into the hand of Tottenham's Harry Winks during their Tottenham Hotspur Stadium clash. Photo / AP

It's good that Spark Sport streamed the Japan-South Africa RWC friendly but, in an ideal world, it would have streamed numerous friendlies over several weeks for familiarisation purposes. As things stand, it seems lots of fans will go into the World Cup from a cold start. The message from Spark is jump in and give the service a go now (there's various library content and features available now). Don't wait until September 20.