- Spark Sport is performing well, with over 300 events and 10,000 hours of streaming successfully under its belt. All but five events have streamed without issue.
- The Spark Sport development team are progressing well with the post-go-live phase of functionality enhancements and bug fixing and will shortly move into the stabilisation phase in preparation for RWC 2019.
- It’s now time for customers who are not familiar with streaming to get ready. With three months to go, New Zealanders who want to watch the rugby should check they are streaming ready now.
With three months to go until the Rugby World Cup 2019 kicks off in Japan, Spark Sport is well on track to deliver all 48 matches live and on demand.
Jeff Latch, Head of Spark Sport, says, “Spark Sport is performing well. Customers are streaming successfully, and more and more people are joining Spark Sport every day, either by purchasing a Rugby World Cup Tournament Pass, or by signing up to the monthly Spark Sport subscription.
“We’ve achieved a huge amount since we launched back in March. Since then, the team has rapidly improved Spark Sport’s functionality through a period of intense development and system improvement. Customers can see this in the improved user experience, and the ‘bugs’ that are a normal part of deploying a new piece of software are rapidly disappearing.”
Getting Spark Sport ready for Rugby World Cup 2019
Spark Sport has prepared for Rugby World Cup 2019 in three phases.
The objective of the first phase, which ran up until March 2019, was to get Spark Sport to market with a solid product that we were happy to put in front of customers. During this phase, the team were focused on delivering core platform capability, creating the core aspects of the user experience, launching the initial range of apps and standing up our initial operational model.
Once Spark Sport went live, the team entered the post-launch phase, which is running from April to mid-July. The focus for this period has been on the delivery of critical post-go live bug fixes, adding additional functionality, launching the app on a wider range of devices and putting the RWC Tournament Pass on sale. This phase finishes when the platform exits ‘beta’, which indicates that the platform is functionally ready to deliver the RWC.
Spark Sport will then enter the final phase, RWC Preparation. This phase is all about stabilising and strengthening the platform for Rugby World Cup 2019. The focus will be on process automation, operational readiness – including capacity and performance testing, and finally, change lock down to avoid any unnecessary changes to the platform. Apps for final devices will also be made available.
Spark Sport is performing well
During the time Spark Sport has been operating, the platform technology performance has been superb.
Spark Sport’s live event performance has rapidly improved over the three months it has been up and running (March – 94.5%; April – 98.5%; May – 99.9%). Of the more than 300 sporting events that have now been delivered, all but five have run smoothly. The small number of early issues experienced were production and process issues rather than technical issues. Plus, Spark Sport has streamed nearly 10,000 hours of sports channel content (NBA TV, Manchester United TV, EDGE TV).
Latch comments, “The last three months have given us the opportunity to hone our event operation skills. We’ve already shown over 300 events on the platform which has allowed us to refine our processes and get the team firing on all cylinders. We’re in the process of automating much of our event operations, which also helps to minimise the risks of human error.
“Although we don’t want customers to experience any hiccups at all, the minor issues that have occurred during these first two phases are not surprising when considered as part of our phased rollout.”
Getting New Zealanders match fit for streaming
With three months to go, the Spark Sport team’s focus is now on those New Zealanders who want to watch Rugby World Cup 2019 live – but still need to get themselves set up to stream for the first time.
Latch says lots of New Zealanders have already purchased their Tournament Pass, but many rugby fans still need to get prepared for kick off. “We’re not concerned about those people who already stream regularly: it’s easy for regular streamers to get set up with Spark Sport. But we do want to encourage those who are not familiar with streaming services to get set up now.
“We want to be very clear that people shouldn’t wait until the tournament starts, as it’ll be a lot more difficult to help them at that stage.
“To incentivise people to get ready early, we included some of the best matches from previous Rugby World Cups in the Tournament Pass – these are available as soon as you have purchased a pass.”
People unfamiliar with streaming who want to watch Rugby World Cup 2019 on Spark Sport should:
- Contact the Spark Sport team on live chat or email
- Head to a Spark store where they will be able to walk you through the options
- For Kiwis who want someone to come to their home and get everything set up for you, Spark is in the process of launching an in-home set up support service for Spark customers and Noel Leeming Tech Solutions also have a Spark Sport set up service.
The key things for people new to streaming to remember are:
- Make sure your broadband is ready to stream. You don’t need to be on fibre, but you do need to have a broadband connection that is capable of streaming live content. Check if you’re streaming ready now. You don’t need to be a Spark customer, although Spark has a great Rugby World Cup deal for customers signing onto selected Spark mobile and broadband plans.
- Decide what you will use to watch the RWC – a mobile, tablet, laptop or PC – or if you want to watch on a big screen, a Chromecast, an Apple TV, a Smart TV (2017 or more recent, Samsung, Sony, Panasonic and LG) or an Android TV device. Get the technology you want to use set up now. You can also access a world of other entertainment options once you have the technology in place.
- Purchase a Spark Sport RWC Tournament Pass at www.sparksport.co.nz and then make sure you’ve got the app on the device you want to watch from.
- Test that you can stream well in advance, by streaming one of the best matches from previous Rugby World Cups (this content is included in the Tournament Pass). When the opening day of the tournament arrives, we expect that lots of people will have questions, and we won’t be able to help everyone at once. So, test your set up and seek help early if you need it.