It didn't take long for Spark Sport to divide opinion at this year's Rugby World Cup in Japan – all of 20 minutes, to be precise.

60,000 streamed RWC opener on Spark Sport: how that stacks up

While several New Zealand rugby fans were impressed with the official broadcaster's streaming service, dozens took to social media to lambast the company's performance during the official opening ceremony at Tokyo Stadium on Friday night.

Complaints ranged from freezing, lagging and glitching during the first 20 minutes of the glitzy ceremony – to differences in streaming quality across Aotearoa and significant delays.


Not everyone was having issues though.

Andrew Pirie, Spark's corporate relations lead, told the Herald that the platform was performing "extremely well" and that issues were limited to "a tiny fraction" of individual customers.

"There are no systemic issues with the platform and we're delighted with how the network is performing," Pirie said.

"We've had literally a few dozen individual customers with device concerns and glitches and we have been helping them through it.

"There are no systemic issues."

Doubts over Spark Sport's readiness to stream the tournament have lingered over the past few months, following several technical issues.

The latest complaints follow only hours after customers were shocked to receive a letter from Spark, informing them that the broadband at addresses weren't up to snuff – despite being sold a Tournament Pass.

Spark responded by saying it has had to "step-up cross-checks" as the number of Tournament Pass buyers has swelled hugely amid a last-minute sign-on rush, though it won't reveal the numbers involved.


Spark began selling Tournament Passes for an early-bird rate of $60 in May, and is now charging $90 to watch all 48 games.