Rugby World Cup 2019: Spark offers full refund after streaming issues

Spark is offering refunds to customers unhappy with its coverage of the Rugby World Cup.

Streaming of Saturday night's first All Blacks World Cup match was plagued with periods of reduced video quality such as pixelation and buffering

Spark said on Sunday afternoon it was "making configuration changes to the way the video stream comes into New Zealand. We believe this will resolve the video quality issues experienced by some customers intermittently during the All Blacks v South Africa match last night."

But for those who aren't willing to put up with it, Spark is offering their money back.

"Customers who feel unhappy with their viewing experience of the All Blacks v South Africa pool match pass can receive a refund: customers who purchased an All Blacks vs South Africa Match Pass can receive a full refund; those who purchased a Tournament Pass and wish to leave the service can also receive a full refund; and those who wish to carry on with the service, can receive a partial 15 percent refund of their Tournament Pass price. 

"Unhappy customers who have activated a Spark Sport subscription via a voucher code can also receive a full or partial refund."

All of Sunday's matches will be simulcast on TVNZ's Duke channel.

"This is in line with the commitment we made prior to the tournament to have established procedures in place via our partner TVNZ to provide an alternative means of watching matches should there be any concerns with Spark Sport's streaming service."

'Kiwis expect better'

The Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs contacted Radio Sport on Sunday following numerous consumer complaints.

"We are hoping to have a chat with Spark later today to get more details of the technicals," Kris Faafoi said in a text.

"It is obvious with an event like this Kiwis expect better delivery than last night."

After furious viewers took to social media midway through the first half to slam the quality of the coverage, Spark announced the second half of the game would be simulcast to free-to-air TV.

Spark said earlier it was "very disappointed that some New Zealanders did not get the experience they deserved".

"We were uncomfortable at the quality of the experience our customers were getting and, as we always said we would, we moved quickly to provide them with an alternative means of watching the match," Spark CEO Jolie Hodson said.

"We had prior established procedures with our partner TVNZ to enable live, free-to-air coverage at short notice."

Spark says the problems were caused by the US-based company which was providing the live stream into New Zealand.

"In general, we will leave Spark to answer the concerns re last night but we are happy there was a contingency with TVNZ, Duke in place and that it kicked in for viewers when Spark identified issues," Faafoi told Radio Sport.

"We will have more to say, but just want to let Spark go through their technical process before we make fuller comment."