The final nail has been hammered home in the coffin for Optus’s agonising attempt to stream the World Cup to Australians through its Optus Sport subscription service.
In what is arguably the biggest PR fail an Australian telco has suffered for quite some time, in a country where telcos specialise in PR fails, Optus has announced it will give SBS full coverage of the rest of the World Cup finals.
There were some murmurs of concern two years ago when Optus announced it had secured the rights to the World Cup 2018 finals in an $8 million deal. But not of those concerns were for technical issues.
The reality didn’t even hit until opening night, when all of sudden, online searches spiked for “how to watch the world cup for free”.
Yes, you actually would need an Optus Sport subscription. SBS could only show the Socceroos matches, and most of the matches involving the final 16.
Only, after signing up for the $14.95 offer, this is what most Australians saw during the Socceroos’ first match:
More highlights from the 2018 World Cup thanks to the good people at Optus pic.twitter.com/GzWgQ9OW2m
— David Penberthy (@penbo) June 17, 2018
And again during the Socceroos’ second match:
— Russell Lumb (@russman45) June 17, 2018
That was enough to get the Australian PM involved. Malcolm Turnbull called Optus CEO Allen Lew for a “please explain”, and Optus gave up another 48 hours of matches to SBS as an apology.
Optus’ Vice President of regulation and public affairs Andrew Sheridan said, “the simultaneous volume was much greater than we had anticipated”.
Just two days ago, Optus was telling media outlets the issues affected “less than a quarter” of users and complaints had dried up.
But today, despite claiming it had fixed the streaming issues, Optus gave up and announced SBS can also broadcast World Cup matches for the rest of the tournament.
The last batch of users have been notified they will get a full refund for any Optus Sport subscription payments they made up to June 27.
Optus will also offer Optus Sport free of charge to those users until August 31.