Spark Sport livestream glitches raise questions over reliability of upcoming Rugby World Cup stream

Just three months out from the Rugby World Cup, official broadcaster Spark Sport is facing mounting pressure to provide a reliable livestreaming service.

Fans wanting to watch the U20s New Zealand versus Scotland clash on Sunday were left without video for 40 minutes. 

But Spark Sport says it wasn't its fault.

"Every tackle, every sidestep and every triumph" is what Spark Sport is promising fans for the Rugby World Cup in September.

But only if it doesn't drop the ball.

AUT head of computer science David Parry says several potential failure points exist in the livestreaming chain.

"Sent up to the satellite, brought across to New Zealand by a number of different routes, then decoded, sent down the internet via the company, and then into your home or the mobile device," Perry explained to Newshub.

Spark is taking no responsibility for Sunday's glitch, saying Spark Sport did not fail during the match. Instead, it's placed the blame on a problem with the host broadcaster's satellite provider.

But it's not the first time Spark Sport's livestream has had issues. Earlier failures during Formula One and a Black Sticks hockey international had fans fuming.

"Really, the technology was never really designed for this," Perry says. "It really was designed for sending effectively text files."

So are we just expecting too much?

"Ninety-nine percent reliability is pretty good and we're easily getting that - and, of course, people will notice when something goes wrong, but not when it goes right," Perry says.

Spark says such an issue is rare and while possible, it doesn't think it will happen again. It says, while the issue is clearly frustrating, it was out of their control.

Spark is still confident it can provide a reliable live-streaming service come the Rugby World Cup in September.


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