Spark Sport blames 'human error' for hockey coverage fail

Spark Sport have shrugged off the "human error" that saw coverage of the Black Sticks' Pro League hockey international against Australia interrupted - and sent the nation's rugby fans into panic.

The fledgling sports streaming service has beaten off more established broadcasters for the rights to this year's Rugby World Cup, despite fears that its platform may not cope with the massive demand expected during the tournament.

Thursday's hockey doubleheader was one of the first real tests of that platform and it failed, as vision of the opening moments of the women's clash fell out.

"Yesterday afternoon, there was a delay in the live strom of the FIH Pro League Women's NZ v Australia game," says a Spark Sport statement.

"A human error at our platform provider iStreamPlanet meant the streaming of the game started late, which meant fans missed the start of the game.

"Although the error was at the platform end of things, there were no technical problems. The actual streaming service worked very well once it began - both for the rest of the live women's match and for the men's match that followed.

"This does not impact our position regarding our ability to deliver the Rugby World Cup. The error is something that we will be reviewing intensively with iStreamPlanet to make sure there isn't any repeat for future events."

Since Spark Sport won the rugby streaming rights, it has had to answer concerns over platform capacity. 

Last year, Australian telco Optus had to relinquish Football World Cup rights, after it was unable to handle the overwhelming demand.

iStreamPlanet has an established reputation as a platform provider, hosting coverage of the Olympics, NBA League Pass and the NFL's Super Bowl. 

"We were told this was a scheduling error," Spark Sport head Jeff Latch told Newstalk ZB.

"We've put about 140 events to air and we've had issues with about three of them - I don't think we've done too bad, but we've got to do better.

"The reason we're launching the platform now is to iron out any of these issues that typically platforms have when they launch.

"By the time we get to the Rugby World Cup, we are very confident the platform will perform perfectly."