Australian OTT Service Fails During World Cup, Linear TV Comes to the Rescue


Australian telco provider Optus has issued a “gesture of goodwill for Australian fans,” authorizing government-owned SBS to broadcast all remaining group stage World Cup matches. The concession (Optus has broadcast exclusivity) comes amidst public pressure, as coder issues prevented thousands of fans from watching games via the OTT service Optus Sport throughout the first weekend of the World Cup. Optus CEO Allen Lew said he has “absolute confidence” that the issues impacting delivery have been corrected. The company has yet to confirm it will retain exclusivity on the games it controls within the Round of 16 and Quarterfinal round; the OTT service is scheduled to carry 2 games in each of those rounds.

Howie Long-Short: Between the loss of angry subscribers and the company’s decision to remove the $15 paywall restricting Optus Sport content through August 31st - a move that ensures Australian soccer fans can watch the first few weeks of EPL action - Optus has “taken a hit”, but Lew insists “it’s not significant in terms of Optus’ bottom line”. Lew does admit the company “made a mistake” in purchasing World Cup rights. For information purposes, Optus acquired exclusive World Cup broadcast rights from publicly-funded SBS for $8 million.

Optus, the 2nd largest telecom company in Australia, is a subsidiary of Singtel. Singtel, a Singaporean telecommunications company, trades over the counter under the symbol SGAPY. Back in mid-May, the company posted Q4 and full year (ending in March) financials. Though Q4 profit was down 19% (to $781 million), the company posted full year net profits that rose 41.5% to $5.45 billion. Singtel Group CEO Chua Sock Koong pointed out that “Optus gained market share in Australia underscoring its network and content strategy.” Shares are down 8.5% since the company reported, closing on Wednesday at $23.32.

Fan Marino: The proliferation of OTT services introduced to the consumer have at times lead many to forget that streaming technology remains less than perfect (remember the Mayweather/McGregor fight?). Broadcast cable remains the safest option if watching the game remains is your number one priority.

Did you know that the Australian national team is known as the Socceroos? The team lost to France (2-1) last Saturday in their first group stage match. They’ll take on Denmark (which defeated Peru 3-0 in the other Group C match) in their second game later this morning (8a). Just don’t expect much from the Socceroos - they’re considered among the worst (if not, the worst) teams in the tournament.

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