Fans vent over ‘absolute disgrace’
IT was Optus's big moment.
Second game of the World Cup. Only available on its platform at a relatively viewer-friendly time compared to most games in Russia. Aussie fans everywhere ready to take the plunge into the brave new world of live sport streaming.
And much like Luis Suarez in the Uruguay-Egypt clash everyone was struggling to watch, the telecommunications company just kept on missing.
Optus had promised to broadcast the world's biggest sporting event like it had never been seen after striking a deal with SBS for exclusive rights to dozens of games at the tournament in Russia.
In a way they lived up to that promise, as countless fans were frustrated by inconsistent and often non-existent streams that left them unable to follow a Group A game the South Americans won 1-0.
Former Socceroo Robbie Slater, who works for Fox Sports, led the chorus of anger as the reality of what it means to only have around half of the Cup's 64 games on free-to-air television hit home.
Rather comically, the poor soul manning the Optus Sport social media accounts just kept happily tweeting updates during the first half.
No awareness of the crisis came until early in the second period, when the following was offered: "We apologise that some viewers are experiencing technical difficulties."
Behind the playback error, Suarez and fellow Uruguayan star Edinson Cavani were heroically held at bay by Man of the Match Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy.
But the group favourites were saved in the dying minutes when central defender Jose Maria Jimenez rose above three opponents to head home a corner.
It left the South Americans tied at the top of the group with Russia, after the host nation's 5-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia on opening night.
But there was no saviour for Optus, who will face a public-relations nightmare if they can't guarantee seamless service for the games they hold exclusively from this point forward, including - quite frighteningly - two of the quarterfinals.
Optus released a statement following the opening game explaining what had caused the outings for many fans.
"Some Optus Sport customers experienced a disruption to their 2018 FIFA World Cup viewing experience on Friday night," the statement read.
"This was due to an extremely high number of viewers logging into our platforms just before kick-off causing some systems to overload.
"While most customers on most platforms were unaffected, we apologise unreservedly to those customers who were, and are continuing to investigate the cause of these systems issues."