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Optus answers World Cup criticism with SBS agreement

Australian telco Optus has agreed that public-service broadcaster SBS will simulcast all Fifa World Cup matches for the next 48 hours after mounting complaints concerning its subscription streaming service.

Optus holds the exclusive rights in Australia to the majority of matches from the ongoing national team football tournament, but subscribers have complained that they have been unable to view games properly due to connection issues, dropouts and other faults.

This even led Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to intervene today (Monday) and Optus has now announced an agreement with SBS as it seeks to improve its service.

“This decision has been made with the interests of football fans across Australia in mind,” Optus chief executive Allen Lew said.

“Most Optus Sport viewers have had a positive viewing experience, however I acknowledge that the experience has not been consistent for all viewers, which is unacceptable. I offer an unreserved apology to those customers that have been let down. We have a dedicated team which has been working around the clock to address technical issues where they have occurred.

“We are confident that we have a solution in place and will be using this time to undertake robust testing of all systems.”

SBS currently holds free-to-air rights to all of Australia’s matches, as well as select games from the group and knockout stages, both semi-finals and the final. SBS was already due to broadcast the matches between England and Tunisia, and Colombia v Japan, both of which were scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday) Australian time.

Turnbull had earlier spoken to Lew to urge him to fix the problems. “He assures me he is giving the World Cup streaming problems his personal attention and he believes it will be fixed this evening,” Turnbull had said, according to public-service broadcaster ABC.

“He obviously acknowledges they've had some real problems with streaming from the Optus platform. He believes he can fix it, believes it will be fixed tonight, and obviously Australian soccer fans will be expecting Optus to deliver in that regard.”