Optus to offer World Cup matches from SBS after streaming problems

Australia's first attempt at streaming a major sports event turned to custard in the opening round of the Fifa World Cup

Two days later, Optus has chose to not only refund subscribers, but also air the the World Cup free and share those rights with SBS, at least for some time.

SBS will broadcast the rest of the World Cup group stage on free-to-air TV after Optus determined its streaming service could not cope with the immediate demand from the Australian public.

Australians will now be able to watch the World Cup for free on the Special Broadcasting Service.

While Optus has exclusive rights to the entire tournament, free-to-air SBS is screening all games featuring the Australian team, plus some select matches.

Telecommunications company Optus bought the broadcast rights for most World Cup games in Russian Federation but technical issues with the live streaming in Australia caused a major backlash from subscription buyers - to the point where the prime minister had to intervene.

Somewhat bizarrely, the issues even prompted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to call Lew to urge him to fix the problems.

"Over the last 48 hours, we have introduced a range of measures to address the technical issues experienced by some Optus Sport viewers", CEO Allen Lew said in a statement.

"This has provided us with the confidence we needed to reassure the Australian public that we have got this and that our efforts have worked", Lew said.

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Speaking on the issue, an Optus spokesperson said, "This has been an incredibly disappointing and frustrating experience for soccer fans who opted for the Optus service".

The issues, which have been coined #Floptus, have delivered a significant blow to the company's brand reputation with many predicting it will take time to rebuild trust.

In terms of the impact this decision will have on the deals Optus has with its broadcast partners such as Hisense, TAB and Hyundai, Lew says this will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Optus also suggested that most of the problems were with customers using Apple devices and on broadband networks other than its own.

Optus is feeling the pressure from angry Optus Sports consumers who had paid for a streaming app to watch the World Cup, only to be faced with buffering, streaming and playback issues. "We want Australians to be able to experience the content we have on offer", he said.

Lew said the company will focus in the short-term on restoring trust with customers it disappointed.

"We appreciate customers have given us another go and invite those to tune in for tonight's games".

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