Tuesday, 26 June 2018 05:50

Decision on extending simulcast of World Cup only by weekend: Optus Featured

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Decision on extending simulcast of World Cup only by weekend: Optus Pixabay

Despite claiming that its network has held up well while streaming World Cup matches after the initial fiasco, Optus says it will not decide until the end of the week whether to simulcast the round of 16 and the quarter-finals on public broadcaster SBS.

An Optus spokesperson told iTWire in response to queries: "Optus will simulcast matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in conjunction with SBS through the group stages and will provide an update upon completion of the matches this week."

The last group matches, pitting England against Belgium and Panama against Tunisia, both in Group G, are scheduled to be played at 4am AEST on Friday. The round of 16 is set to start on 1 July.

Optus was forced to ask public broadcaster SBS on 20 June to simulcast the remaining group games after its streaming service hit a rough patch in the first few days of the tournament.

The telco had obtained the rights to stream all 64 games, while SBS was to show all games involving Australia, one match a day on other days, the semi-finals and the final.

But on 19 June, Optus said that SBS would simulcast games over the next two nights, due to technical difficulties it had faced. A day later, the simulcast was extended to all group games. The company has offered refunds to all those who paid the $15 monthly fee it had charged for its World Cup coverage.

The Optus spokesperson said its network had been holding up after the initial hiccups.

"Our network has continued to perform well following a number of measures implemented," the spokesperson said. "We are continuing to closely monitor traffic, review all platforms and interfaces and are confident in our continued delivery of the 2018 FIFA World Cup."

Asked how many Fetch Mini boxes it had provided to customers free as a result of the streaming problems and whether this distribution would help to boost the Fetch brand, the spokesperson declined to give any numbers.

"Optus has provided Fetch Mini boxes to customers who experienced difficulties viewing the FIFA World Cup on Optus Sport, during the first weekend of competition. We are unable to disclose the number provided," the spokesperson said.

The company did not respond to a query as to whether it was ready to cope with the additional stream on its infrastructure that would result from it alone broadcasting the round of 16 and the quarter-finals and not simulcasting the games with SBS.

Optus announced on 20 June that its World Cup coverage on the Optus Sport app would be free for the rest of the tournament; the content opened up by 23 June afternoon. The app will be open for free use until 31 August.

Also freely available would be the first three rounds of the Premier League, including matches between Arsenal and Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal and Manchester United and Tottenham.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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