Published: Fri, June 22, 2018
Arts&Culture | By Antoinette Montgomery

World Cup games to air on free TV amid problems in Australia

World Cup games to air on free TV amid problems in Australia

The telco is making Optus Sport free until August 31.

The telco cut a 2016 sub-licensing deal with SBS, which holds the rights to this and the next World Cup, that allowed Optus to screen all 64 matches at Russian Federation 2018, 39 of them exclusively.

Optus, which has rights to all 64 matches in Russian Federation, has also announced that fans will be able to sign up to the Optus Sport app for free until 31st August, while anyone who has already paid the AUD$15 subscription will be refunded.

For the World Cup, Optus made coverage available to anyone willing to pay for a subscription rather than just customers on its own mobile and fixed line networks.

The Fetch TV Mini box (valued at $168) provides access to a number of services and channel packs, including a dedicated Optus Sport channel which will hopefully allow users to stream each game properly from here on out.

"Since Monday we have continued to improve our product and Optus has delivered the last six matches without any issue".

The concession follows technical issues that have plagued the telco's coverage of the tournament in its opening week, ABC reported.

"SBS looks forward to continuing to simulcast the games, together with Optus over the next 10 days".

Optus chief executive Allen Lew said today that the company "deeply regretted" its poor service that has seen vision freeze during its transmission.

"I have spoken with the Optus CEO, Allen Lew".

Unfortunately, things haven't been quite so peachy at Optus this week, and after struggling to get the World Cup broadcast streaming to its paid subscribers (and taking heat over it), it's handing the reigns over to SBS. It was then that the initial 48-hour reprieve was agreed to.

"There's no doubt this has adversely affected the Optus brand", an apologetic Lew said, "everybody is very disappointed, to put it mildly".

A weekend of criticism saw Optus reach an agreement with SBS for the public broadcaster to air four extra games on Monday and Tuesday while its technicians worked on a solution.

SBS originally onsold the World Cup broadcast rights to Optus Sport, with Fairfax Media reporting that deal was worth approximately $8 million.

But despite the hefty price tag, the move has been largely good for the telco.

"This reaffirms that our strategy to deliver quality content to customers is the right one".

Optus were also similarly confident leading up to this year's Fifa World Cup, saying before the tournament that people shouldn't be concerned with the technology.

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