Wednesday, 20 June 2018 18:08

SBS to simulcast remaining group matches of World Cup Featured

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Public broadcaster SBS will simulcast all remaining group matches of the World Cup football tournament along with Optus, in an agreement with the telco which has been dogged by issues with broadcasting games on its network.

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 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 the technical difficulties it had faced. The company has not identified the exact issue that caused some of its viewers to have issues, with smartphone and tablet users the worst affected.

Additionally, Optus chief executive Allan Lew said in a statement on Wednesday that Optus Sport would be free to all Australians until 31 August.

“We are confident in our capabilities and are ready to back our product. 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.

“We have also listened to feedback. As a gesture of goodwill for Australian fans, Optus will also simulcast the group matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in conjunction with SBS through the group stages.”

Lew claimed that despite the issues, thousands continued to sign up to Optus Sport because, in his opinion, they  wanted the flexibility to watch content when and wherever they choose.

"Any customer who has purchased or does purchase an Optus Sport subscription for the World Cup will be provided a refund,"the company said.

"This offer includes the first three rounds of the Premier League and includes matches between Arsenal and Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal and Manchester United and Tottenham."

Labor Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland and Deputy Opposition Senate leader Don Farrell said in a joint statement on 19 June that SBS chief Michael Ebeid had blamed budget cuts by the Coalition Government for SBS having to undertake a joint licensing deal with Optus. The broadcaster has shown the entire World Cup tournament many times in the past.

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Sam Varghese

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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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