Spark Sport's boss has promised customers the telco will deliver the remaining matches for the Rugby World Cup after a rocky weekend.

It's been a turbulent few days for Spark after many All Blacks and South Africa viewers encountered pixelating, blurring, buffering or lost signal during the match.

At its peak the service reached 132,000 viewers but by the end of the match that number had declined to 126,000.

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Spark's bad weekend carried through into early morning yesterday, with the company's stock price dropping before later recovering.

And as the All Blacks vie for a third consecutive World Cup title, questions had been raised around whether Spark can deliver quality coverage.

Speaking to Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB yesterday morning, Spark Sport boss Jeff Latch said the streaming service was not what they were hoping for.

Spark's head of sport Jeff Latch. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Spark's head of sport Jeff Latch. Photo / Jason Oxenham

He could not guarantee a faultless run for the remainder of the tournament but said the platform, network and production were tested and had been outstanding.

"We believe we are going to deliver for the next match and the other 41 matches left in the Rugby World Cup," Latch said.

If there were any problems with future streams, he said, the match would be put on to TVNZ's Duke channel within 40 or 45 seconds.

On Sunday, all World Cup matches were shown on TVNZ Duke as well as Spark Sport due to disruptions from the South Africa and New Zealand match.

However, yesterday afternoon Spark announced its coverage of the Wales and Georgia match would be exclusive to Spark Sport after addressing the issues.


As soon as the market opened yesterday morning, Spark's stock price dropped 8 cents (1.84 per cent) to $4.27.

Anton Lienert-Brown evades the tackle of South Africa's Franco Mostert. Photo / Photosport
Anton Lienert-Brown evades the tackle of South Africa's Franco Mostert. Photo / Photosport

The drop was equivalent to a loss of more than $144 million in market value for the $8 billion company.

The company's share had since recovered, lifting 3 cents higher than it was trading on Friday afternoon.

Spark's sport-streaming competitor Sky TV, meanwhile, saw its shares increase 1.75 per cent to $1.16 early in trading yesterday.

Forsyth Barr analyst Matt Henry said Spark would have been disappointed given the amount of work done to make the rugby streaming a seamless experience.

While it highlighted the complexity of live-streaming services, compared with on-demand services like Netflix, it didn't matter to the end-user.


"You could say we tried very hard and point to what the issues were, but, ultimately, the person sitting on their couch doesn't care," Henry said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Speaking to media from New York, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was "ultimately" up to Spark to ensure they delivered a great service.

When asked about the issue, Ardern said she was aware of the problems and had read some of the discussions around what happened.

She said she still has confidence in the telco, "based on the fact they have contingency plans in place".

Ardern's take on the streaming saga was far more diplomatic than that of her deputy, Winston Peters, who is serving as Acting Prime Minister while she is overseas.

He said the streaming of the game was an "abject disaster", vowing the Government would get to the bottom of the issue.


"I can assure you we will find out as fast as possible as to what on Earth is not going on," he told Newstalk ZB's Weekend Collective yesterday.

Peters, who had to watch much of the game on his phone because the stream on his TV was interrupted, said Spark should have been better prepared for the event.

"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 ... It's not satisfactory."

At the post-Cabinet briefing yesterday, Peters said Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi had spoken to Spark about the issue and gathered new information about the saga.

"We do hope that Spark are on top of it."

Asked what would happen if Spark did not up their game, he said, "we will be back to a thing called TVNZ".


The Government was looking into claims from Spark that the issues that caused the glitches were from overseas, Peters said.

Additional reporting from Business Desk.