Hopeless start to Spark RWC streaming

Spark winning the rights to broadcasting the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand meant I have had to pay a premium to watch any games I want to watch, as otherwise it would have been included in my Sky Sport subscription.

But I paid the $80, at least thinking that streaming meant that I could watch games at my convenience as opposed to at scheduled broadcast times.

I subscribed two weeks ago and had a quick test and it seemed to run ok.

I have unlimited fibre plan through Spark.

I am running it through my PC (connected via WIFI too my Spark supplied device) via an HDMI cable to my TV, which is a smart Samsung TV but more than a couple of years old so not supported by Spark.

I also did a quick test of the opening ceremony on Friday night and that seemed to run ok.

But as the first game (Japan v Russia) started late-ish I decided to stream it early this morning as that suited me better.

I got up just after 5 am and tried it. It didn’t start well. I could only get a badly broken picture. I switched from Chrome to Firefox, and it was a little better but still bad. So I switched back to Chrome and I got sound and picture, so settled in to watch.

The video quality at best was ok. he problem was that right through the first halve the streaming kept stopping every few seconds, sometimes momentarily, which was annoying, but sometimes for seconds, missing usually the most active play. That was bloody annoying.

I persevered until half time but was getting increasingly frustrated.

At half time I rebooted my PC and started it with just one program, Chrome. I did a Spark broadband speed test

According to Spark Sport: What broadband speed do I need?

We recommend that you have at least 15Mb/s download speeds to take advantage of our highest quality content, but if your speed is lower than this, the quality will adjust accordingly. A minimum of 6Mb/s download is required to support a Spark Sport stream.

To have a look at what your speed is, head over to speedtest.net and run the test on the device you plan to stream on, at a time and place where you would normally watch Spark Sport.

So I tried that speed test.

Spark also tries to answer Why is my stream buffering?

As Spark Sport is an online streaming service, there are several factors that could lead to you experiencing buffering issues. The quality of your streaming experience is determined by your broadband connection, your modem and where in the house it is located, the device you use and how many other devices in your home and neighbourhood are using the network at the same time.

Your network and connection

You will need a minimum of 6Mbps to be able to stream Spark Sport; we recommend at least 15Mb/s download speed to take advantage of our highest quality content.

So theoretically my Spark fibre connection should be more than good enough.

I tried watching the second half. It began the same as the first half, with pauses every few seconds.

Until the video stopped altogether and I only got audio.

So instead of watching I am typing this post. Bloody annoyed.

But before starting the post I tried to connect to Spark Sport help chat. I am still getting “Please wait, you are in a queue to speak to an agent.” I don’t know if I will speak to anyone before the second half is over. I have a house to paint.

I want to watch the All Blacks versus South Africa tonight, live. I’m not optimistic, but maybe streaming via peak viewing will be better.

But if Spark can’t provide adequate streaming on demand it will negate the advantage of streaming, and it will be a waste of money.

I often stream Netflix, Youtube, sometimes Parliament TV and other things with few problems, and nothing like the problems I have has streaming the RWC.

So far my experience with Spark Sport has been a dismal failure.

 

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51 Comments

  1. Duker

     /  21st September 2019

    Regarding your TV, even if it was a Smart TV you can to a mini up grade by having a Chrome cast HDMI plug in module – there are two models one is a wireless from your modem the other in addition can have a cable connection.

    The other thing to check is your local wireless channel congestion ( but a 5am wouldnt be an issue). where I live theres plenty of houses close by and a Wifi channel scanner on my tablet shows some channels are congested while others are not.

    Reply
    • I use an HDMI cable.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  22nd September 2019

        I have nothing like that, this is Luddite House. My set is the smallest one I could find. I was very thankful that its demise was a false alarm because the smallest one I could find was 22′ (mine is 19″)

        Reply
  2. Gerrit

     /  21st September 2019

    To get better performance it pays to empty your browsers cache. Streaming relies on being able to use your browsers cache and if it is full you will get lag.

    Clear the cache and reload the web page helps tremendously. As does increasing the cache size allocation.

    https://www.gawkinggeeks.com/guide-to-increase-browser-cache-memory/

    But when everyone is streaming the same event, the bottleneck may not be at your terminal, could be anywhere upstream.

    Reply
  3. I watched it without any problems on my MacBook Pro. I have not had any problems with the service so far and I think the commentary and comments teams are excellent.

    Reply
  4. Grumpy

     /  21st September 2019

    We live in a rural area with Rural Broadband so nit an option to watch on Spark. Will wait and watch on TV1,

    Reply
  5. Corky

     /  21st September 2019

    Mikey -1

    Spark – 0

    Thankfully I listened to Mikey and saved myself much angst. I used my VPN.

    The question I’m wondering about : Is there liability for Spark under the ‘Consumer Guarantees Act’?

    The All Blacks losing the WC…and a class action against Spark…what a great backdrop for an election.😊

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  21st September 2019

      Glorious sunny morning at Pookden Manor & I’ve just lost me glasses somewhere I think under a pile of chopped out box hedge I’m replacing. I’ve pulled it all out piece by piece frm where I piled it up at the top of tne strwat bsnk under a young pittosporum to break down in the elements but no luck finding them.

      Do you see me whining about it? No ! It’s too nice a day here for swearing & bitching. I know the lenses need changing & need an eye test anyway before September when my driver’s licence needs renewing for another 10 years. As an AA member I get a free one from Specsavers so I’ll just book in for one.

      Given ya a downtick for negativity. Watch it.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  21st September 2019

        Bother !

        I’ve pulled it all out piece by piece from where I piled it up at the top of tne stream bank under

        😆

        Reply
        • Somewhere else, not still on your head, don’t laugh, it happens.
          Wife is going under the knife next Friday, she may be able to give up wearing glasses which she has worn since she was 2 years old.
          My second biggest worry is people will think I have taken up with a new younger woman as her glasses really a big part of her public persona.
          1st world problems eh!

          Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  21st September 2019

          Should have gone to Specsavers !

          Reply
  6. Gezza

     /  21st September 2019

    From an item on tv1 news last night where Spark were refusing to comment on how the setup work was going, I took it (perhaps wrongly, was only half interested as I won’t be streaming the WC) there were likely to be teething problems.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  21st September 2019

      Spark was blaming people who don’t want cellphone towers on 3. I wasn’t really listening as I have never watched a game of rugger and know that I will see far more than I wanted of it on the so-called news.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  21st September 2019

        Yup – same on one 1ewes too. Whenever Kiwi sporties are doing well, or the AB’s are concerned, the rotten beggars fill up the 1st segment with what should be in the bloody Sports News segment. Ma’s sick of me moaning about it, but she pretty feels the same way – unless it’s Sophie Pascoe or any of the women rowers. She’s always pleased when they do well in international comps.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  21st September 2019

          Drat.

          *pretty much feels the same way

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  22nd September 2019

            Then they repeat it on the sports segment. What’s the blimmin point of having it twice ? Tell us who won and those who are interested can wait for the sports ‘news’ to see the whole story.

            Reply
  7. Corky

     /  21st September 2019

    Just in case anyone hasn’t read this bs from Spark.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12269485

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  21st September 2019

      Spark are shite on customer service. Nearly everybody is these days. Got a problem? Go look at our FAQ’s. Fkn useless. Ring VS Helpline 123. Listen to an IVR voice message that takes forever to get you to the option you want – to bloody talk to someone! All our people are busy.

      Leave your number. Wait 1 hour 40 minutes to get a callback. End up speaking to someone in the Philippines. Sometimes they know their onions. Other times they seem to have a limited script, don’t understand you (& you may struggle to understand them) & nothing gets done to sort ypur problem out unless you figure it out ypurself, eventually.

      If they transfer you to an expert, expect another delayed callback – more wasted time twiddling your thumbs, wondering whether to get started on something while you wait. Dont go out in the car in case they call you while you’re driving.

      Just as well I’m in a very good mood today because it’s sunny outside. Otherwise I might have a right royal whinge about the bastards. 👼🏼

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  22nd September 2019

        I rang them about a scam call from what looked like an NZ number and was not impressed by my reception (from a Kiwi) I had wondered if it was a new version of the scam, but won’t bother again.

        Reply
  8. Gerrit

     /  21st September 2019

    Another method to speed up your browser streaming performance is to direct the browser cache to store in RAM rather than on the slower reading hard drive.

    Worth a try

    https://smallbusiness.chron.com/set-ram-cache-firefox-41282.html

    Reply
  9. lurcher1948

     /  21st September 2019

    Whose this idiot( mikey) you mention all the time,put a picture up…idiots pictures need posting and corky are you photogenic…

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  21st September 2019

      Well done Lurchy. Another one successfully made it thru the gate. 🙂

      Reply
    • Corky

       /  22nd September 2019

      Lurchy! Mikey is a media commentator. Very urbane and intelligent. He predicts events before the country realises there’s events to predict. I’m guessing he’ll predict National will take that energy payment out of your sweaty hands. 😊

      Reply
      • Oh, my mistake, I thought that you meant Mike Hosking by ‘Mikey’. But that description makes it obvious that it isn’t, as no one could call him urbane and intelligent.Or capable of making predictions (not accurate ones)

        I can’t think of anyone called Mikey in NZ. Is he an adult ?

        Reply
  10. Gezza

     /  21st September 2019

    Gahd. When’s this bloody game getting underway on delayed tv1 broadcast. Why do the waste so much time on drivel beforehand? I blame the government! 😡

    Reply
  11. Alan Wilkinson

     /  22nd September 2019

    I gather the All Blacks won and Spark lost.

    Reply
    • Kimbo

       /  22nd September 2019

      So was rugby the winner in that equation? 🏉😀

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  22nd September 2019

        I saw that on 3. How to lose customers without really trying. I can’t imagine that many people will be willing to trust Spark again.

        Reply
  12. Corky

     /  22nd September 2019

    Good to see Pete will get his money back.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  22nd September 2019

      Sounded like a right shambles from the 1news item. Ma not too long ago got a letter from Spark saying they were switching all their remaining copper wire landline customers to a wireless set up as the copper wire system would degrade (or some such bollocks).

      The beauty of thecvopper wire system phones is that they get their power from the line itself, so if there’s a power cut that shuts down the fibre or wireless networks, the landline phones still work.

      The attitude in the letter was “If you wish to switch to another provider, we will understand” – a nice way of saying, “go along with this or eff off”.

      A twin handset & wireless modem kit was supplied FOC, & while it was simple enuf to instal the letter and & package came while ma was at a Rest Home getting respite care as I was having medical prep apoointments, & then shortly afterward my EVAR operation, so was temporarily out of of commission. I got her to phone Spark to connect it for her & they sent someone to instal the system, but connect it to her current twin-handset ansaphone kit.

      Their selling point for the power cut issue was a 6 hour backup battery pack, connected to the wireless modem. At the end of June, I spotted an online news item in Stuff & RNZ saying they were recalling all the backup units issued between March & June as one had caught fire & there was a design defect.

      I’m surprised there was no tv news item about it.

      They invited customers (most will be in their 80s & 90s, I reckon) to disconnect them (instructions in the news articles) & drop them into a Spark outlet, but I got ma to phone them to send someone to collect it. The Indian Chorus technician who collected it said he didn’t know if they would replace them, the staff actually knew little about it. But, he said, she would receive a $90 (or possibly $60) compensation credit from Spark.

      I think the backup unit has been quietly dispensed with, but ma told me the other day, to her surprise, that she has received the credit. She’s still got her 3G mobile if the power goes out on the landline system.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  22nd September 2019

        Copper wire does ‘degrade’ as they put it. There was a roll of it in the shed and when I took it out with the idea of giving it away, it was now in very poor condition and quite fragile so not worth it. This was a real surprise as it had never been used.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  22nd September 2019

          As other telephone services providers haven’t (as far as I know) made similar demands for a switch over by their customers – and as Spark themselves seemed quite content to encourage those wanting to stay on the copper wire system to exit their fold & move to another provider, I am taking their implication/statement that the copper wire system will crap out thru lack of maintenance with a grain of salt at the moment.

          Reply
        • Gezza

           /  22nd September 2019

          Light earthquake (11 minutes ago)

          Sun Sep 22 2019 9:58 PM
          Magnitude: 4.0
          Depth: 25 km
          Within 5 km of Porirua

          Could hear the low roar from that one coming for several seconds before it hit. Just a short, sharp, judder. Nothing to write home about. 😎
          2214 hours

          Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  23rd September 2019

          Poor old PDTs with nothing better to do than downtick someone just because it’s that person. How childish.

          Reply
      • Corky

         /  22nd September 2019

        Yep, that’s a familiar story. When I had my fibre installed, the Indian technician didn’t know how to turn the wifi from the modem off. Re the copper. There’s nothing wrong with copper lines apart from Spark not wanting to do the minimal maintenance to keep them running. I usually like to support corporates, to balance the books so to speak, given few have a good word to say about corporates. In Spark’s case I find no redeeming attributes.

        Reply
  13. duperez

     /  23rd September 2019

    The new communications technology is brilliant.

    Saying that, it is very common to hear people being interviewed on radio who “have to move” or “try a new line” or are “breaking up.” I’m sure in the ‘old days’ the old phones presented far less problems for sound quality.
    I realise that with the old hooked-up-to-the-wall models you couldn’t call from the top of Mount Everest or while walking along the Russell foreshore, but I’m sure you get my drift.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  23rd September 2019

      Rt Hon Winston Raymond Peters, PC, Acting PM, was somewhat scathing about Spark’s RWC live stream shambles at his post-Cabinet press conference (shown live on Stuff) although only in answer to a reporter’s question; he didn’t dwell on it. Reckoned their testing wasn’t up to scratch I think. He watched it on his mobile.

      Reply

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