With less than three weeks to go until the 2019 Rugby World Cup kicks off in Japan, Spark Sport faces several unresolved issues.
Here's a look at the five most thorny, as the clock ticks down.
1. Technical wobbles
New Spark chief executive Jolie Hodson recently told the Herald that Spark Sport is now technically up to snuff, with 99.99 per cent uptime, and that the telco's main focus in now on an education campaign.
That pledge wasn't borne out by Spark Sport English Premier League coverage over the weekend, however, when Spark acknowledged problems with the streams for two games (Newcastle vs Watford and Southampton vs Manchester United) and drew complaints about highlights packages that were late to appear, and then which initially went online with no audio.
Spark says it has gold-plated things at its end, and that it can handle any crush of traffic that arrives for RWC games. Problems have occurred with third-party providers, it says. That might be true, but viewers don't care where along the streaming foodchain a problem lies. Managing the whole chain is part of what it means to be a broadcaster.
Spark's board and management will be getting nervous that, so far into its World Cup dress rehearsal, Spark Sport is still not putting in seamless performances.
The Herald has heard whispers that Spark's board will assess Spark's performance after the first game of the RWC. If there was any meltdown - or just too many glitches and user problems to stomach - the nuclear option would be to move all games to free-to-air on TVNZ (the state-owned broadcaster is already playing a major safety net role. As things stand it will show all of the All Blacks pool games and the ABs' assumed quarter-final on just a one-hour delay, with no ad breaks thrown in - at least beyond those that feature on Spark Sport - plus the semis and the final live).
2. Running out of time for education
Broadly speaking, New Zealand is a nation of two halves. There's the 50 per cent who are Netflix-comfortable, and the 50 per cent who don't know Chromecast from their elbow. Many rugby fans fall into the latter camp. They don't know how to set things up in their lounge so content can stream from their laptop to their big screen TV and, more, they resent being force-marched into a change if they want to see every RWC game.
When I'm watching social media complaints about Spark Sport's Premier League coverage, some are due to genuine technical issues at Spark's end, but many are due to people getting confused about the various technologies involved, or drowning because their home broadband or Wi-Fi isn't up to snuff.
I imagine that will be magnified 1000x as rugby fans pile on - and by Spark's own estimate, it will be a last-minute pile on. The company recently said it expected 50 per cent of signups to its app to arrive in the final two weeks.
It just takes time for people to acclimatise to streaming, and wrap their heads around the various concepts involved, even when everything's working flawlessly. That's time that Spark just doesn't have.
Spark Sport head Jeff Latch said yesterday that one issue is that a number of people have bought a Rugby World Cup Tournament Pass but have yet to access its library content to give the service a workout.
To help gee things along, Spark Sport will stream the South Africa vs Japan warmup game this Friday. Latch encourages people to jump in and give it a go.
3. Last minute device support
The easiest way to watch Spark Sport is through an app on a smart TV (that is, most TVs sold these days, which often run on the same Android software that powers many phones and laptops).
Samsung was onboard from the get-go, but it was never clear when Sony, Panasonic and LG would come onboard.
All have now joined the party, but in LG's case, only with one foot in the door.
Spark Sport head Jeff Latch said last week, "Spark Sport will soon launch on 2019 LG TVs. However, despite extensive collaboration between Spark Sport app development and the device manufacturer, the Spark Sport app experiences significant issues playing on 2017 and 2018 LG TVs, so the app will not be made available on these devices before the Rugby World Cup."
There's no support for Microsoft's Xbox or Sony's PlayStation, perhaps the two most common devices that Kiwis use to get internet-delivered content to a regular telly. With more time, surely game console support would have been on Spark's agenda.
There's also been chopping and changing in technical strategy, with Spark last month chopping down video quality from 60 frames per second to 30fps to help smooth performance on older laptops and older models of Google's popular Chromecast widget. Last week, Spark changed tack and said it would bump its stream back to 60fps.
This sort of tweaking was always going to happen, but just 18 days from RWC kickoff is cutting it fine.
4. The delay
The All Blacks' squad announcement highlighted that Spark Sport runs behind traditional broadcast TV.
Latch put this down to the need to encode video for many different types of devices.
For RWC games themselves, Spark will also have to get a feed via satellite from Japan, process it via partner TVNZ, send it on to partner iStreamPlanet in the US then deliver it back to NZ via content delivery partner Akamai.
All told, the delay will be between 20 and 40 seconds, Latch said last week. That leaves plenty of time for seeing spoilers via social media or liveblogs, or hearing them via radio.
5. What next?
Recently-departed Spark boss Simon Moutter was bullish on sport.
His successor, Hodson, seems to be dialling down expectations.
She has made a point of saying the telco will maintain its dividend next year, and said - three times - during a Herald interview that Spark will only bid for further sports content where it sees a commercial return.
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In contrast, new Sky chief executive Martin Stewart is all guns blazing on sport. He said at the company's full-year result that it had suspended its dividend and opened a new $200m credit line as war chest moves to prepare itself for the streaming wars - and content rights fights - ahead.
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Stewart has made no secret that he's willing to bid til it hurts, and absorb no little short-term pain, in an effort to scare off Spark.
That means even if the Rugby World Cup goes perfectly for Spark - and odds-on, it won't - Spark's Hodson, and her board, will still face a tough go-hard or go home decision.
Personally, I hope she goes hard. Streaming offers punters far more content, and much more control over how they access it. Consumers will be the winners if Spark keeps pushing Sky to go further with online content.
But neither am I going to go easy on Spark Sport, as my inbox constantly fills with complaints. Call it tough love.