RWC – results and problems

Aafter the opening three days of the Rugby World Cup in Japan there have been mostly predictable results. Most notable of the other results, Argentina had a very close match against France, losing 21-23, and Ireland were too classy for Scotland last night winning 27-3.

In the big game the All Blacks struggled at times against South Africa but a five minute two try blitz made the difference, plus a disciplined and strong defensive second half. This puts the ABs in the box seat for winning the pool, lining them up for a probably quarter final against Scotland if they aren’t upset by Samoa or Japan.

One of the biggest talking points about the RWC here has been the failure of Spark to provide flawless streaming of the games.

I have worked out what my problem probably is. My PC (it’s  few years old) doesn’t have enough processing power to handle the stream, despite being good enough to work with Netflix, Youtube and other streaming services. Every few seconds it pauses, which is very annoying,

From Spark Sport FAQs: Why is my stream buffering?

Even if you have a decent internet connection, some lower spec laptops and desktops might get stuttering or buffering issues as they don’t have the processing power to decrypt the stream. We would recommend checking that you’re running the latest version of your browser and if you’re still having issues – trying a different device.

Devices

If you’re having buffering issues, try watching on another device to determine if the issue is with your device or your connection. We also recommend trying to watch another piece of content on Spark Sport or other streaming provider such as Lightbox, to determine if the issue is with a single piece of content.

I found out that my work laptop, which is a couple of years newer, manages to stream without the hiccups. The problem is that it doesn’t have an HDMI port. And I hadn’t had time to work this out until Saturday evening, So we huddled in front of the small screen to watch the All Black-Springbok match, which wasn’t great.

And it wasn’t a flawless stream either, with a number of buffering pauses. A few minutes before the end of the game a message popped up saying that Spark had put the second half up on Duke due to ‘a small proportion’ of viewers. It was very annoying to only find this out near the finish, too late to be of much use – I even didn’t bother switching over.

I had connected Spark on Saturday morning about the problems, via email and via a tweet. I still haven’t had a reply to my email, but I got a response from my tweet – on Sunday, so too late for Saturday’s games.

They suggested that “it is common for older devices to have buffering issues that are not network related. I had already worked out this was a likely cause, but only streaming Spark Sport.

They had noticed I had tried with both Chrome and Firefox – Chrome wasn’t as bad, but still hard to watch.

They suggested I try Safari. I found that Safari hasn’t been updated for a few years but is supposed to perform better than Chrome and Firefox (or at least it did when it was current). I downloaded the latest version and tried it, but get this message.

I’m guessing this may be because Safari is too old to know about whatever streaming system Spark Sport is using.

I did some googling but haven’t found a way around this yet. So I will get back to Spark to find out if they have a solution for their suggested workaround.

So my TV, while ‘smart’, is too old to run the Spark Sport app – anything older than a couple of years is too old.

My PC is too old to stream without continual hiccups.

I’m sure I will be far from the only one to have found that Spark Sport streaming is not really good enough for mass delivery.

They are offering a money back option, but that would mean I can’t watch all the games I want to watch, and I won’t be able to stream on demand which was the benefit of a streaming service, especially with many RWC games late in the evening NZ time.

Maybe they can’t adequately resolve their technical deficiencies and will broadcast all games on Duke. That solves the bad viewing experience, but won’t provide on demand.

For now I will wait and see.The All Blacks don’t play again until next week. But I will want to have a decent way to watch all games by the time the quarter finals start (on 19 October). That gives Spark Sport about a month to sort their shit out.

Leave a comment

16 Comments

  1. alloytoo

     /  23rd September 2019

    The problem here appears to be Spark Sports inability to adjust the feed to suit your hardware.

    Have you tried your phone and Chromecast? (or even casting to your smart tv from laptop?)

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  23rd September 2019

      Yes . Chrome cast seems to be way to go to “update your TV”
      Get the slightly more expensive version that runs a cable directly to your modem ( it its with reach) and with updates Google they will update the firmware directly ( but you can get updates more quickly if you really want to)
      With the Spark app not working with older TVs – the standard streaming serviceslike Netflix Amazon dont seem to have troubles like that. Spark is using a dedicated US streaming service , if they cant handle TVs more than a few years old why is Spark even using them ?

      Reply
  2. Gezza

     /  23rd September 2019

    I’m calling that a major fail by Spark. Sounds like they bungled their launch. Why couldn’t they have established older PC’s would have this problem & advised the minimum system requirements for satisfactory streaming? Or even better provided an automated test. Before frustrated customers signed up to the service.

    They’ll have to go! 😡

    Who else have we got? 😳

    Reply
    • They suggested a broadband test, which I did. They also suggested doing a streaming test, which I did and it seemed ok, but when you watch for a while the problems become noticeable.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  23rd September 2019

        I suppose that’s fair enuf but their own testing can’t have been very extensive of thorough. It’s annoying when a system going live is the first time it’s thoroughly tested & you’re one of the ones who their free tester! :/

        Reply
      • Gezza

         /  23rd September 2019

        The rest of Rugby World Cup tournament should stream “perfectly”, Spark says after thousands of rugby fans were let down by streaming of the All Blacks’ first match.

        That’s from Spark’s head of sport Jeff Latch who said the issue on Saturday night, caused by the configuration of the video signal from the US. had been identified, resolved and fixed. He believed the rest of the tournament streams would go off without a hitch.

        “We believe that we’re going to deliver the remaining 41 matches perfectly,” he told RNZ on Monday morning.

        https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/116004263/rest-of-rugby-world-cup-will-stream-perfectly-spark-sport-boss-says

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  23rd September 2019

          They say that everytime time with slightly different wording
          “the configuration of the video signal from the US. ..”

          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
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  23rd September 2019

          I can’t see much point in telling people that it HAD been put on Duke…did they not think that people might have liked to know that when it happened (or before it did ?)

          Reply
      • Gezza

         /  23rd September 2019

        Oh, I beg your pardon. According to Stuff, Peters’ comments are a major news item:

        The Government has confronted Spark over its Rugby World Cup coverage failure at the weekend.

        Many viewers were outraged with lag time and choppy or pixilated images during the game between the All Blacks and the Springboks, and slow customer response from Spark.

        Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Kris Faafoi had met with the company and was given a lot of new information about the problem.

        Winston Peters said he had watched the All Blacks game on his phone and said it was “not flash”.

        Spark did not have enough information or had not done enough to ensure the live streaming was foolproof, he said.

        Faafoi had been given significant assurances about the future of the streaming.

        Peters, who had been outspoken about the failure, now said he hoped Spark were on top of the problem: “And I suggest they had better be.”

        He had watched the All Blacks game on his phone and said it was “not flash”.

        “It was a leap back to the black and white days,” he said.

        https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/116022960/acting-pm-winston-peters-warning-for-spark-over-rugby-world-cup-streaming-failure

        Reply
  3. Richard

     /  23rd September 2019

    I have had perfect reception from a VDSL internet connection, casting wifi through their app from a 5 year old Samsung S5 to a 10 year old Sony TV.

    Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  24th September 2019

    Reasons to be happy:
    1. You do not work for Spark’s help desk.

    Reply
  5. Trevors_elbow

     /  24th September 2019

    I understand it should improve markedly… additional content servers coming online

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  27th September 2019

      It was a little awkward growing up in Taranaki – a rural province, so rugby mad, a rohe where soccer players were “cissies” – but at times like these, and when you have to pay for live coverage of the ABs, I’m glad that I’ve never been a rugby tragic. 😎

      Reply

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