Optus gifts SBS, Australians the rest of the World Cup

Optus hasn’t exactly been having the best of luck lately, and after conceding to streaming issues with its World Cup broadcasts, its now offering the soccer event free.

Living in Australia means access to the 2018 FIFA World Cup has been a fairly interesting exercise in what you can get for free. For instance, if you only wanted to watch the Socceroos and a few other games, SBS had the action available not just on TV, but also on an app made for nearly every device, including even a VR service to let you experience the action first hand.

However SBS’ games are only a handful of the many, many being broadcast, and Optus has the rights to the rest.

If you wanted to watch games not being shown by SBS, you needed to buy into Optus’ $15 per month “Optus Sport” package, which would get you a month of sport and happened to include the 2018 FIFA World Cup, among others.

Unfortunately, things haven’t been quite so peachy at Optus this week, and after struggling to get the World Cup broadcast streaming to its paid subscribers (and taking heat over it), it’s handing the reigns over to SBS.

Earlier in the week, it handed over rights to more of the World Cup games for 48 hours while it worked on the issues. Two days later, Optus has decided to not only refund subscribers, but also air the the World Cup free and share those rights with SBS, at least for some time.

“Since Monday, Optus has delivered the last six matches without issue,” said Allen Leo, Chief Executive Officer at Optus. “This has provided the confidence we needed to reassure the Australian public that we have addressed these issues and that our efforts have worked.”

“As a gesture of goodwill for Australian fans, Optus will also simulcast the group matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in conjunction with SBS through the Group stages,” he said.

That means for the next couple of weeks, you can expect both SBS and Optus to feature the World Cup games, at least during the Group stages.

After that, Optus’ Sport app and service will still be free, featuring the games SBS won’t be airing, and providing free sport until August 31, well after the 2018 World Cup has finished. Given what’s happened, though, we wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Optus is letting SBS have access for the rest of the Cup, as well. We’ll let you know if and when that happens.

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