Fans win after own goals by telco Optus

Telco Optus will allow the World Cup games earmarked for its paid-for streaming service in Australia to be shown for free on government-owned TV channel SBS until the end of the group stage.

The concession follows technical issues that have plagued the telco's coverage of the tournament in its opening week, ABC reported.

Customers who had signed up to Optus for this period will get their A$15 (S$15) fee refunded.

Optus will also allow the first three rounds of the English Premier League, originally scheduled to be streamed on Optus, to be shown for free on SBS.

Singtel-owned Optus had won exclusive rights in Australia to stream the month-long World Cup.

Chief executive Allen Lew was quoted as saying: "We, as Optus, have tried hard to deliver an exceptional viewing experience and deeply regret this has not been the case for all Australians. Since Monday, we have continued to improve our product and Optus has delivered the last six matches of the World Cup without issue. This has provided us with the confidence that out efforts have worked."

Problems surfaced on Sunday afternoon during Costa Rica's match against Serbia.

APOLOGIES

We, as Optus, have tried hard to deliver an exceptional viewing experience and deeply regret this has not been the case for all Australians.

MR ALLEN LEW, Optus CEO, on the glitches that plagued the World Cup screenings in Australia.

There were also issues on the opening night of the tournament with drop-outs, freezing pictures and logging-on problems.

The barrage of complaints prompted Mr Lew to apologise: "We should have done better, we can do better and we will do better," he said on Twitter.

They also saw Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wade in to demand answers.

While Optus has exclusive rights to the entire tournament, free-to-air SBS is screening all games featuring the Australian team, plus some select matches.

Mr Turnbull has stepped into other sports-related controversies, Reuters said. In March, he demanded quick action from Cricket Australia after a ball-tampering scandal.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2018, with the headline 'Fans win after own goals by telco Optus'. Print Edition | Subscribe