Spark have reassured Kiwi rugby fans that there will be no repeat of Optus' Fifa World Cup streaming failures during next year's Rugby World Cup.

Australian telco Optus has been under fire from outraged fans after World Cup games were constantly disrupted by frozen screens, buffering, service interruptions and error messages.

Optus announced that all games will be simulcast on free-to-air SBS for two days, as they work on coming up with a solution for the issues.

The live streaming failure raised potential concerns for Kiwi rugby fans over next year's Rugby World Cup, after Spark and TVNZ won the broadcast rights to the tournament.


The deal means only seven Rugby World Cup matches will be screened live on free-to-air, while the rest will be streamed live or on-demand over home broadband or mobile connections.

With concerns rising over this unprecedented era of sports coverage, Spark have vowed to get things right during next year's Rugby World Cup broadcast, saying they are confident in their ability to deliver the streaming service.

"We're technology experts on this stuff and we've got plenty of practice with streaming," Spark managing director Simon Moutter told Radio Sport Breakfast.

"Remember we were streaming EPL several years ago and we're the owners and managers of Lightbox. So we have very clear experience with streaming."

Moutter says the issue that Optus encountered was a learning opportunity for Spark but remained confident that time was on their side to get things ready before games start in September next year.

Midfielder Aaron Mooy of Australia and forward Nabil Fekir of France. Photo / Photosport
Midfielder Aaron Mooy of Australia and forward Nabil Fekir of France. Photo / Photosport

"The issue that Optus have encountered is a capacity problem," said Moutter.

"It's a timely reminder for us and we already have the work streams up and running to make sure that we've got adequate network capacity which is one issue … and the second issue which is the video delivery and what we call the content delivery network capability and capacity that can handle these sorts of volumes."

Optus were also similarly confident leading up to this year's Fifa World Cup, saying before the tournament that people shouldn't be concerned with the technology.


"The technology is now is light years ahead of where it was a year or two ago," Optus Sport executive producer Richard Bayliss told Guardian Australia last month. "And there are scores of people whose job it is to make sure everything goes off without a hitch and having seen how hard they've been working in the lead-up to the World Cup I don't think people should be concerned at all."

But Optus' unreliable streaming service from Russia has left football fans fuming, with the telco company admitting that it underestimated the challenges of streaming the tournament to such a large audience.

In a statement, an Optus spokesperson said that "an extremely high number of viewers logging into our platforms just before kick-off causing some systems to overload".

"Some Optus Sport customers experienced a disruption to their 2018 Fifa World Cup viewing experience on Friday night," the statement read.

"While most customers on most platforms were unaffected, we apologise unreservedly to those customers who were, and are continuing to investigate the cause of these systems issues."

It remains to be seen if Spark can deliver the seamless service they're promising, but Optus' struggles certainly provides a valuable lesson.

"The little silver lining for Spark in the cloud that Optus have confronted over the last few weeks is it's just given us a focal point to say 'don't take this lightly'," said Moutter.

"It's a timely reminder to us but we do have time on our side."