'#FloptusSport': Furious fans slam Optus' World Cup streaming

Furious football fans who subscribed to Optus Sport for World Cup matches have demanded refunds over issues with the app.

Lionel Messi missed a crucial penalty as Argentina were held to a 1-1 draw in their 2018 World Cup clash against Iceland on Saturday night (AEST).

Optus has been forced to apologise after being inundated with complaints about its FIFA World Cup streaming, with furious fans claiming they've missed out on matches because of dropouts. 

Andrew Royal from Melbourne was one of many Australian fans left frustrated by the Optus Sport app last night.

He said constant lag and slow buffering prevented him from enjoying the anticipated showdown between Argentina and Iceland.

“It has been so slow since Friday... it kept disconnecting and coming up with a black screen. Optus told me it’s a problem with my network, but I’ve never had network issues before,” Mr Royal told SBS News.

“I was on the phone with customer service for 45 minutes. I got Optus Sport just for the World Cup and I wanted to enjoy it in full.”

An Optus Sport spokesperson told SBS News they did not "identify any issues with our own network last night on the live stream" but pledged to do better. 

"Some customers who watched the match on the Optus Sport app, on certain devices through other telco networks, experienced buffering issues."

The spokesperson said the network has taken actions to improve the experience of customers, which reduced slow buffering incidences “significantly during the course of the night to low levels”.

“We believe the vast majority of viewers were not impacted and had a good viewing experience.”

But Optus CEO Allen Lew last night posted social media: "I apologise unreservedly to all Australians."

Depending on their mobile plan, some Optus customers can access Optus Sport at no additional cost – but others have to pay $14.99 per month for the service.

Mr Royal said he was not typically an Optus customer. He said he had subscribed to Optus Sport solely to watch the World Cup and has since contacted the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and lodged a complaint.

“I haven’t been offered any reimbursement by Optus. I’m a football fan and I didn’t just want to see the highlights or know the score, I wanted to see the whole match,” he said.

“I had invited family over to come watch the game, and it was so embarrassing because we all missed out.”

Other Optus Sport subscribers took to social media to vent their frustrations.

“I missed both goals due to an aggravating 10 straight minutes of buffering during the game. I’m seriously disappointed,” Alex Otterbach commented on the Optus Sport Facebook page.

Hundreds have shared their frustrations on social media using the hashtag 'floptus sport'.

The Optus customer forum website Yes Crowd also received complaints.

One customer under the username 'ajk73' wrote they felt very frustrated during the match between Argentina and Iceland, like Mr Royal, they hoped the telco ombudsman would step in. 

"More drop out issues...all customers of Optus feeling ripped off will hopefully contact the ACCC and Telecommunications Ombudsmen in case this isn't fixed and refunds are not offered."

Optus Sport has exclusive rights to 39 games and shares broadcast rights to the remaining matches with SBS.

Amid customer calls for Optus to not be allowed to broadcast the World Cup again, an SBS spokesperson explained how the deal was negotiated.

“In 2016, SBS negotiated a deal with Optus that has allowed us to bring more of the best international football to Australians free-to-air than there has been in over a decade, by securing free-to-air rights for the Premier League through sharing the rights to the FIFA 2018 World Cup,” they said.

“Through this partnership, SBS retains live free-to-air and digital rights to 25 of the biggest 2018 FIFA World Cup matches – including all Socceroos games.”

SBS's live coverage of the Socceroos match against France was the most watched program of Saturday night for Australian television audiences with 3.4 million viewers.

Viewers will be able to watch the Socceroos v Denmark on Thursday night on SBS. 

SBS News has contacted the ACCC for comment.

You can view the full SBS FIFA World Cup broadcast schedule here.

Published 17 June 2018 at 3:07pm, updated 18 June 2018 at 1:49pm
By Jessica Washington