Optus apologises for World Cup streaming as Australian PM asks for assurances

The Singtel-owned Australian telco says it 'knows' the majority of customers are having a good experience.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
(Image: Optus)

Optus CEO Allen Lew has apologised for issues with the telco's World Cup streaming service over the weekend, which is the only legal avenue for Australian football fans to see every game of the tournament, following a less-than-impressive debut on the weekend.

"I apologise unreservedly to all Australians," the CEO said via Twitter at the weekend. "We should have done better, we can do better, and we will do better."

"Australians can be assured that this has my personal attention, and the entire network's team's attention, and we will solve it."

The solution, though, was not completely in place last night, as the telco was directing customers with issues to apps other than its own to watch the matches on.

"For those users currently experiencing technical difficulties on Optus Sport, please enter your details into the 2018 FIFA World Cup app to watch the Costa Rica-Serbia game while our tech teams work to fix the problem," the company said.

Speaking to journalists on Monday, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he was trying to chase down the Optus CEO.

"I have a call into Allen Lew at Optus, so I hope to speak to him later on today to seek his assurances that the failure in the streaming service has been rectified," Turnbull said.

A spokesperson for Optus told ZDNet that its coverage was better following the Costa Rica and Serbia match, and that it is working with customers directly due to the "individual nature" of the problems.

"We know that the majority of customers are having a good broadcast experience during the World Cup," the spokesperson said.

"We apologise to those customers affected, and reassure them our team is working around the clock to ensure that we are delivering an excellent broadcast service to all Optus Sport viewers regardless of the platform they are using to enjoy the tournament."

Last month, Optus extended its English Premier League (EPL) rights out to 2022.

"[The EPL extension] feeds exactly into what our strategy is -- if you think about it, at the end of the day, where we want to take Optus is to be able to offer a premium mobile network to our customers, premium content, and all at an affordable price or a competitive price," Lew told ZDNet at the time.

"We won't stop with just Premier League and the World Cup; we will continue to source other high-class top-notch football content to ensure that Optus Sport will be the home of elite soccer."

Optus' self-described transformation into a multimedia company began with its original acquisition of the exclusive Australian broadcast rights for the EPL back in November 2015.

Also in May, Optus said it would make 400 employees redundant, and said it would phase out its Virgin Mobile Australia subsidiary over the next two years.

The company reported full-year net profit of AU$817 million, up from AU$794 million a year ago, from operating revenues of AU$8.7 billion.

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