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Full credit but some time in the sin bin: How did Spark get on?

Paul Brislen, Editor. 23 September 2019, 5:00 am

Although the All Blacks did well this weekend, winning their first pool game of the Rugby World Cup, the online streaming service provided by Spark did not fare quite as well.

Spark Sport won the rights to screen the Rugby World Cup and has been at great pains to warn customers about the need to prepare for the games. Instead of being screened live via set-top box, customers would need to subscribe to Spark's sport package, have a decent broadband connection (and good in-house wiring or wifi capability) and of course would need a device capable of screening the games. In the old days that was known as a "television" but in this proliferation of edge computing brain power, Smart TVs, Apple TVs, Chromecast boxes and any number of other devices are instead the flavour of the day.

Unfortunately, despite all of that Spark still suffered some disruption to service on some devices and made the tough call at half time to bench the service and call in the reserves in the form of live broadcasting on TVNZ.

The problem appears to have occurred offshore, according to early updates from the Spark PR team.

"Our technical team believes the issue is within the international distribution network via which the video stream is passed from our streaming platform located in the USA, through to New Zealand broadband providers. The team are working to confirm this and put a fix in place," says Spark's spokesperson in a written statement.

A further update advised that changes had been made, but that to be on the safe side, Spark would simulcast the next few games on TVNZ's Duke channel as well, so as to minimise disruption.

The first All Black game drew good crowd numbers with more than 160,000 simultaneous streams taking place, representing a very good figure for Spark. Given online streaming of content is on the rise, it's essential that online platforms are robust and able to deliver the goods, something Spark is learning about on the fly.

Spark isn't the only new player in town, however. Acorn TV has launched in New Zealand with a back catalogue of UK television series designed to attract the Brexiteers among us.

While the catalogue is largely made up of tried and tested fan favourites, having them all in one place is the key to Acorn's service, clearly aiming at the "TVOne is the only channel there is" crowd.

"Featuring 'the most robust, reliable selection of European, British, Canadian and Australian shows' according to The New York Times, Acorn carefully curates a world-class library of captivating crime thrillers, addictive dramas and intriguing mysteries to offer Kiwi audiences instant access to their favourite British and international shows all in the one place for the first time," says the press release.

The service is available via iOS, Android, Android TV, Chromecast or online and access costs $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year.


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