Optus Sport has extended the temporary shared streaming of FIFA World Cup matches with public broadcaster SBS until the end of the competition’s group stage.
Last night Optus announced it would simulcast 48 hours of matches with SBS after viewers encountered connection issues and drop outs during games over the weekend.
That simulcast arrangement has now been extended to June 29.
The telco today also announced that it would offer Optus Sport to all Australians for free until 31 August “as a gesture of goodwill”, and refund any customer who bought a subscription for the World Cup.
That offer will include the first three rounds of the English Premier League and includes matches between Arsenal and Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal and Manchester United and Tottenham.
“We are confident in our capabilities and are ready to back our product," said Optus CEO Allen Lew today. "We want Australians to be able to experience the content we have on offer.
"Over the last 48 hours, we have introduced a range of measures to address the technical issues experienced by some Optus Sport viewers.
"Since Monday, Optus has delivered the last six matches without issue. This has provided the confidence we needed to reassure the Australian public that we have addressed these issues and that our efforts have worked,” he added.
Lew told media this afternoon that the issues had been worsened by a failure in a “critical part of our content delivery network”, making “the experience for a large number of Australians worse than it was the previous night”.
The telco had been using two different CDNs and one suffered a “critical failure” between the encoder and the packager, he explained.
Lew issued a statement last night apologising to fans.
“We know Australian football fans are amongst the world’s most passionate, and vocal, and we clearly understand Australia’s passion for this major event, and the frustration that goes along with not being able to watch the event,” he said.
“Most Optus Sport viewers have had a positive viewing experience, however I acknowledge that the experience has not been consistent for all viewers, which is unacceptable," he added. "I offer an unreserved apology to those customers that have been let down.
"We have a dedicated team which has been working around the clock to address technical issues where they have occurred."
The telco had said the 48 hour handover to SBS would allow them to undertake robust testing of a fix.
Somewhat bizarrely, the issues even prompted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to call Lew to urge him to fix the problems.
"He assures me he is giving the World Cup streaming problems his personal attention and he believes it will be fixed this evening," Turnbull said on Monday.
SBS sub-licenses its rights to Optus, but retains shared broadcast rights for the semi-finals on July 11 and 12, third place play-off on July 15 and final on July 16.