Rugby World Cup 2019: Bar owner glad he picked SKY instead of Spark Sport after streaming issues

A Whakatane bar owner is glad about his decision to pick SKY over Spark to play the All Blacks match on Saturday night.

Allan Unsworth, the owner of The Office Bar and Grill, had around 120 people in his bar to watch the All Blacks' first World Cup game against traditional rivals, the Springboks.

"We went with SKY just to make sure that we didn't have any issues with the live streaming," he told Newshub.

"Cost us a little bit extra but we didn't want to be halfway through the game when it drops out or anything, it's just we weren't too sure how well it was going to work… so we were a bit precautious and went with SKY TV and did it that way."

As a result, Unsworth says they had a "great night" without any technical problems.

"There were no issues with the streaming, we didn't have any issues at all - it was all good," he says.

However other New Zealanders did not have a great night. Spark's streaming was plagued with periods of reduced video quality such as pixelation and buffering.

Furious viewers took to social media midway through the first half to slam the quality of the coverage, with more than 132,000 fans tuning in to watch the test match.

Spark was forced to move the game to free-to-air TV, later blaming the issues on the US-based company providing the live stream into New Zealand. 

But Unsworth says that this was entirely foreseeable for many people.

"We all expected it to happen to be honest," he told Newshub.

"Everyone I've talked to in the hospitality industry was wary of it working, so we all kind of expected a little bit of backlash on it but that's why we went with SKY, to make sure we used a reliable source."

Spark is offering refunds to customers unhappy with its coverage, and says all of Sunday's matches will be simulcast on TVNZ's Duke channel. However this won't help fans without a Spark Sport account, SKY or Freeview.

Unsworth hopes there are no more problems with Spark providing future games.

"I hope everyone can stream it live and have no issues at all," he says. "Spark probably needs to make that happen, otherwise it ain't going to be good."