Spark Sport has been shown the yellow card by rugby pundits following the turbulent streaming of the All Blacks-Springboks match on Saturday.

And there are now questions about whether the telco can guarantee the nation's fans will receive quality coverage for the remainder of the tournament as the All Blacks vie for a third consecutive title.

A "small percentage" of customers were faced with constant pixelating, blurring, buffering or lost signal altogether during the match, forcing Spark to screen the second half live on free-to-air TV.

Mike Hosking: Spark Sport is crap, they've failed abysmally


Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters yesterday vowed the Government would get to the bottom of the issue, labelling the incident an "abject disaster".

Following the glitchy match, Spark Sport worked overnight Saturday and into Sunday morning in an attempt to resolve the video stream problem.

However, all matches yesterday were simulcast free on TVNZ's Duke channel.

"All going well, we intend to return to solely streaming on Spark Sport for future matches," a Spark spokeswoman said yesterday.

"At this stage, so that customers can be confident they will have a good viewing experience, we have made tonight's matches available on TVNZ Duke."

A customer who did not own a standard television told the Herald he could only watch the match on the Spark Sport app and the glitches were horrible.

The stream was a constant headache and he had never experienced such lagging while streaming sporting events.

Spark Sport yesterday offered refunds to those who had subscribed to its service. It said:


• Customers who purchased an All Blacks vs South Africa Match Pass could receive a refund.

• Those with Tournament Passes who wished to leave the service could receive a full refund.

• Those wishing to carry on with the service could receive a partial 15 per cent refund of their Tournament Pass price.

• Customers who activated a Spark Sport subscription via a voucher code could receive a full or partial refund.

Asked how many of their customers had cancelled their subscriptions or asked for refunds last night, Spark said it would not release the numbers.

The match between the All Blacks and Springboks was plagued with glitches for some. Photo / Supplied
The match between the All Blacks and Springboks was plagued with glitches for some. Photo / Supplied

Meanwhile, unhappy customers would be required to fill in the refund form by no later than 11.59pm on September 29, it has been revealed.

"We will process your refund within 10 working days to the credit card associated with your Spark Sport account," Spark Sport said online.

The streaming problems appeared to be sourced from the United States-based company which provided the live stream, Spark Sport said.

It was not an issue related to Spark Sport's platform, it said.

A spokeswoman said a change in configuration ahead of yesterday's matches would solve problems customers experienced on Saturday.

"Our focus is on delivering a quality viewing experience for our customers.

"At this stage, and as always communicated, our contingency plan is to make the feed available via TVNZ Duke so customers have a secondary viewing option."

A cartoonist's take on the Spark Sport streaming fiasco. Illustration / Guy Body
A cartoonist's take on the Spark Sport streaming fiasco. Illustration / Guy Body

Speaking to Newstalk ZB yesterday, Peters said the streaming service was so bad he was forced to watch much of the All Blacks-Springboks match on his phone.

"They [Spark] were told to get ready and we hoped that they would be ready and they promised us that they would be and they're not," he said.

"It's not satisfactory."

Asked if the Government was in contact with Spark over the issue, Peters said they were probably "beleaguered with all sorts of phone calls at the moment".

"I didn't want to wait around for a couple of hours like everyone else."

The Government was doing all it could to uncover what the issue was during the match, he said.

However, Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi told the Herald the Government would leave it to Spark to answer concerns about the stream.

"We are happy there was the contingency with TVNZ's Duke channel and that it kicked in for viewers when Spark Sport identified issues," Faafoi said.

"We will let Spark go through their technical process before we make any further comment but it is obvious that with an event like this, Kiwis expect better delivery than last night."