After simulcasting games on TVNZ on Saturday and Sunday following its Saturday night flop, Spark Sport will return to streaming only for tonight's Wales-Georgia clash.
"The team are confident in the fix that was made on Sunday afternoon, and having had three matches with great technical delivery last night, we are shifting back to only streaming," a spokeswoman says.
And Spark chief executive Jolie Hodson says she's confident her company's streaming service will perform well for the rest of the Rugby World Cup - but stresses that if it doesn't, games can again be switched to TVNZ at a moment's notice.
"If we just stand back, and we look across the two days of streaming, we've now had six of the seven events stream very well," Hodson said during a Herald interview (see video below).
Of course, many fans were in no mood to step back and calmly assess the situation on Saturday night, because the one game that had significant issues was the big one: the All Blacks vs South Africa - not just the only game that really mattered over the weekend, but the blockbuster for Spark, given the rest of the AB's pool games (and likely quarter-final) are soft, and the semis and final will be live on TVNZ.
What went wrong?
"The issue that we identified was a config issue of the video stream coming in from the US, which we rectified over the 24 hours that followed, Hodson said.
"And therefore last night we streamed three games with no issues at all."
To give more context to Saturday's problems, she said, "An international partner that we work with, the way they were configuring streams to come into New Zealand - it was getting congested in a particular channel.
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"So it wasn't to do with New Zealand broadband capacity of any of the New Zealand broadband providers. It was really around how the stream was coming into the country."
But isn't Spark just passing the buck. Shouldn't it have been managing the whole process?
"It wasn't a management issue. It was our partner and how they had configured the channels.
"In simple form, if you think of it as lanes on the motorway. They had too much going down one particular lane," Hodson said.
Some aren't completely satisfied with this explanation; the Herald will have more on this theme shortly.
For now, Hodson seems confident Spark Sport can see out the rest of the tournament without its TVNZ crutch. Asked on her confidence level for the rest of the RWC, she said, "From my perspective, we've resolved the issue that we had. We will be streaming tonight and effectively as I've said all the way along, as we said prior to the tournament starting, that if at any point we feel the service isn't at the level that customers would expect then we will switch [to TVNZ] and we continue to have that option."
Some subscribers will take Hodson's pledge that the issue is resolved with a grain of salt, after an up-and-down World Cup for Spark.
On the eve of the tournament, the telco said all the technology was locked and loaded. The key issue was user education.
But on Friday, the telco sent a last-minute bombshell letter to small-town customers telling them they would need to upgrade their plan.
Friday night's opener, streamed by around 60,000 went relatively smoothly, but did see a glitch hit Samsung TVs.
And Saturday afternoon's Australia-Fiji clash was streamed to 88,000 with little incident.
And on Saturday night the wheels came off for number of subscribers. Spark won't say how many, but it was enough for it to initiate its emergency fallback at half-time, enabling a simulcast on TVNZ's Duke channel.
Duke's ratings bounce
Spark says there was only a modest fall-off after the TVNZ broadcast went live, with the peak of 132,000 streams falling to 126,000 by the end of the game.
Form its side, TVNZ says 58,000 were watching "Ghosts of Mars" on Duke before the sci-fi horror was usurped by the rugby simulcast - which was watched by a peak 135,000 viewers.
A TVNZ spokeswoman noted that by the time the Duke simulcast kicked off, many had started watching the All Blacks-South Africa clash on TVNZ 1 on the broadcaster's always-scheduled one-hour delayed coverage and stuck with that. A total 745,000 watched the game on TVNZ 1, and 426,000 watched a replay on Sunday afternoon (all of TVNZ's numbers are via Nielsen). All-up, 927,000 people tuned in to TVNZ's RWC coverage at some point on Saturday (Spark points out that more than one person could have watched each of its streams).
As ever, Hodson won't say how many have subscribed to Spark Sport (that is, how many of the 132,000 peak on Saturday got free access under a Spark deal).
But earlier, spokesman Andrew Pirie said signups reached 90 per minute during 6pm and 7pm on Saturday.
Spark fielded a total of 10,000 help requests via social media and its phone lines, where it had 200 extra bodies on its helpdesk.
Hodson says the help requests were mostly to do with setup, and not related to system-wide problems.
Did Spark not leave itself enough time for user education?
"Ultimately, some people make the choice to do that on the last day - what we made sure is that we have enough people and we had our social and our digital channels as well as our care channels there for customers to engage with us so we could help them," Hodson said.
15% refunds - and nothing on hardware
Spark is now offering a full $90 refund for people who were unhappy with Saturday's coverage - but if you take it then you lose access to the rest of the tournament.
To stay onboard, you have to accept a 15 per cent refund only (and apply for it by September 29).
Those who bought a one-off $25 match pass can apply for a full refund.
Jolie shut the door on those who are complaining they spent hundreds on a device to get wi-fi to their TV, or thousands on a new smart TV, however.
She told the Herald all of those devices could be used for watching other service "and our focus is really on the Spark Sport service and the refunds we might provide there."
Spark Sport head Jeff Latch has previously made bullish comments about bidding for season-long A-list sports.
Unsurprisingly, Hodson avoided any braggart comments on that front today.
"Look, we're absolutely focused on delivering the Rugby World Cup for New Zealand. We know that's really important. We have a number of sports codes already and we'll continue to engage with sports as we look ahead," she said.