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Spark on rugby broadcast

22 September 2019, 01:15am

Spark Sport explains decision to simulcast All Blacks v South Africa pool match on TVNZ Duke

During the All Blacks vs South Africa pool match last evening, Spark Sport made the decision to simulcast the game live on TVNZ Duke.

Midway through the first half we identified that the quality of the video stream was fluctuating for some customers. This meant that customers experienced brief, intermittent periods of reduced video quality such as pixilation and buffering.

We were uncomfortable at the quality of the experience our customers were getting and, as we always said we would, we moved quickly to provide them with an alternative means of watching the match. We had prior established procedures with our partner TVNZ to enable live, free-to-air coverage at short notice.

We made the call just before half time to immediately simulcast the rest of the match live on TVNZ Duke and we communicated this through our channels and the media. A banner message was also subsequently displayed on Spark Sport.

The video streaming quality issue improved shortly afterwards and from midway through the second half streaming across all devices appeared stable once again.

The majority of customers continued to watch via Spark Sport and did not experience video quality issues. The service peaked at 132,000 concurrent streams and by the end of the match had dropped to 126,000.

There were not the same video quality problems during the day’s two earlier matches. Although some customers needed help from our care teams at times during the day, for the most part these related to isolated device issues and in-home set up.

The root cause of the video streaming issue is still being investigated with our international streaming partners. However, we can confirm that the issue was not related to New Zealand broadband capacity, with the demand for this game well within our operating thresholds. It was not confined to customers of any particular broadband provider.

Spark CEO, Jolie Hodson said, “We are very disappointed that some New Zealanders did not get the experience they deserved last night during such an important match. Making a quick decision to give them an alternative means to watch the All Blacks was the right thing to do. We apologise to all impacted customers and we will be working with our partners to rectify what happened and ensure the rest of the tournament goes well.”

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