Spark confident streaming service up to task for remaining Rugby World Cup following glitches

The Rugby World Cup kicked off with a win for the All Blacks, but a loss for some viewers who were unable to watch the game due to technical issues with Spark's sports broadcast.

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Spark CEO Jolie Hodson joined Breakfast to discuss customer complaints. Source: Breakfast

Off the back of complaints, Spark simulcast coverage live on TVNZ DUKE within the first 15 minutes of the game, and has since offered partial and full refunds to disgruntled subscribers.

Spark chief executive Jolie Hodson said Spark had "a number of games streamed live" that went well – "especially over the Friday, Saturday leading into the All Blacks game.

"And for many of our customers, the All Blacks game also streamed very well," Ms Hodson told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning.

"However, we do accept that there were a number of customers that it didn't perform well, which is why we made the decision to switch over to TVNZ. We said right from the beginning of the tournament we had that backup plan. We wanted to make sure the experience was great for everyone and when we saw that it wasn't on some devices, we made a choice to move."

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Shares in the telco have dropped on opening this morning, says 1 NEWS reporter Kim Baker Wilson. Source: 1 NEWS

Viewers reported issues with picture quality, glitching and lagging, which Ms Hodson said was owed to the "configuration of the stream coming into New Zealand" from the telecom's overseas partner.

"We worked with them over the weekend, and we have resolved that particular issue," she said. She noted that Spark streamed and simulcast last night and had "a number of people on our platform who watched the stream with no issues."

She said the technical issues appeared for some viewers while not others due to "the way it turned up on certain devices for certain customers".

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Coverage of the All Blacks vs South Africa match was simulcast on TVNZ DUKE. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Hodson assured viewers that Spark is focused on providing a good service to customers.

"We need to make sure that we’re delivering a great service, and we'll be really focused on that and at any point within that time that we don't think that we are delivering great service, then we will switch across to TVNZ."

She said Spark received a number of complaints through social media and their care teams. The company, she said, will "continue to work through that over the next few days".

"If customers felt that they're unhappy with the experience, then we would offer a refund, and that's all about delivering a good experience. If we're not, or people don't feel that we are, then they have an opportunity to get that refund."

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Jolie Hodson says the provider always had a back-up plan if there was an inappropriate experience for customers. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Hodson said Spark is "confident with the fix put in place", but added that Spark will be quick to switch to TVNZ DUKE again in the future if other issues arise.

A spokesperson for World Rugby, which hands out broadcasting rights for the Rugby World Cup, told 1 NEWS that while the organisation would not be commenting on Spark's performance, it was worth noting that a contingency plan in place to ensure "all fans in New Zealand can watch the action".