World Cup 2018: SBS extends Optus simulcast deal for all group stage matches

Australian Football Team - InsideSport

Football fans in Australia will now be assured of a seamless and uninterrupted broadcast of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia after the Australian public-service broadcaster SBS has extended its the deal with telecom company Optus until the conclusion of the group stage matches.

SBS will continue to simulcast coverage of FIFA World Cup 2018 until the last group stage tie between Panama and Tunisia on June 28(11:30 pm IST). The move came after the intervention from Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who tried to ensure seamless broadcast of the FIFA World Cup 2018 matches in the country.

Australian football fans were left disgruntled after technical issues have affected the broadcast picture quality – and no video at all – in Australia during the live telecast of the FIFA World Cup 2018 games in Russia. The fans, who have paid $15 for the World Cup games package, were anguished for not being able to access the Optus broadcast links.

Optus, which had acquired the exclusive rights in Australia in a deal reportedly worth AUD$8 million, agreed on a 48-hour deal with SBS, following the Aussie PM’s intervention, to simulcast coverage of the tournament on Monday after the telco’s subscribers complained about the subscription-streaming service’s connection issues, dropouts and other faults.

“SBS looks forward to continuing to simulcast the games, together with Optus over the next ten days,” SBS chief executive and managing director Michael Ebeid said.

Earlier this week, Optus chief executive Allen Lew offered “an unreserved apology to those customers that have been let down” and said, “We have a dedicated team which has been working around the clock to address technical issues where they have occurred. We are confident that we have a solution in place and will be using this time to undertake robust testing of all systems.”

SBS already has free-to-air rights for all of Australia’s matches at the tournament, as well as selected games from the group and knockout stages, both semi-finals and the final.

A decision has not been made about whether Optus will retain its exclusive rights for two of the four quarter-finals and some of the round-of-16 matches. It has also decided to open up its app and streaming services for free through to August 31, with subscribers who have already paid for the service receiving full refunds.

Also Read: FIFA World Cup 2018: PM steps in to ensure smooth broadcast in Australia