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SBS, Optus extend World Cup coverage deal

Australian public-service broadcaster SBS will continue to simulcast coverage of 2018 Fifa World Cup matches through to the conclusion of the group stage on June 29 after extending an agreement with telco Optus.

Optus, which has exclusive rights in Australia to the majority of matches from the ongoing national team football tournament, agreed a 48-hour deal with SBS to simulcast coverage of the tournament on Monday after the telco’s subscribers complained about the subscription-streaming service’s connection issues, dropouts and other faults.

“SBS looks forward to continuing to simulcast the games, together with Optus over the next ten days,” SBS chief executive and managing director Michael Ebeid said.

Earlier this week, Optus chief executive Allen Lew offered “an unreserved apology to those customers that have been let down” and said: “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 already has free-to-air rights for all of Australia’s matches at the tournament, as well as selected games from the group and knockout stages, both semi-finals and the final.

A decision has not been made about whether Optus will retain its exclusive rights for two of the four quarter-finals and some of the round-of-16 matches.

Optus has also decided to open up its app and streaming services for free through to August 31, with subscribers who have already paid for the service receiving full refunds.