Optus CEO Allen Lew has this afternoon conceded defeat and announced that the remaining games in the group stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be broadcast live and free-to-air on SBS.
After a week of problems, enormous public outcry over the streaming issues being faced by users of the Optus Sports service for the entire World Cup has forced Optus’ hand and it seems they are unable to fix the underlying issues with the service.
On Monday evening Mr Lew announced that for 48 hours all matches would be shown on SBS while they worked on their systems and network to attempt to fix the problem, however just 46.5 hours later he’s had to concede that they simply can’t guarantee the service at this point. Though he certainly didn’t say that to the Media he briefed this evening.
Mr Lew said today “Since Monday we have continued to improve our product” and went on to say he was now confident with the product, going on to say “However confident as we are in our capabilities, we have listened to the feeedback from Australian Soccer Fans, from tonight, they can watch the FIFA World Cup on Optus Sport and on SBS during the group stages on June 29”
SBS has been the World Cup Broadcaster for decades, and having obtained the rights to the 2014, 2018 and 2022 World Cups back in 2011 was set to continue down that path until they compromised in 2016 and formed a partnership with Optus to get access to English Premier League games on TV, while handing over a stack of World Cup games to Optus Sport.
The deal proves people will pay for the premium service, there was no vast outcry to the underlying concept, but when it failed, it slapped Optus right where it hurts – their reputation. FlOptus is now a trending topic and a nickname that may just stick.
For the thousands of people who paid $15 to access the service Optus will offer a full refund, though that will offer little to those people who may have switched to Optus to become a customer and get Optus Sport for Free.
As for the Round of 16 and Quarter Finals, which are currently slated to be on Optus Sport, EFTM understands that SBS will have first choice of the daily game during the round of 16, meaning there will be at least one game on Optus Sport only.
When it comes to the future of streaming sport, and Optus Sport in particular, it could go the way of Optus Vision and cease to exist – because who now can trust it will ever work? The damage to their reputation is immense.
To fix that, Optus will offer their Optus Sport service for Free to all Australians until August 31, which includes the first few weeks of the new season of the English Premier League – they hope to prove themselves – we’ll have to wait and see if anyone tunes in.