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Optus to stream the entire World Cup for free after balls-up

Optus will also simulcast all group stage matches on SBS and refund users who signed up for its World Cup streaming service.

SOCCER: JUN 16 FIFA World Cup Group Stage - France v Australia
Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

After playback errors riddled Optus' World Cup streams during the opening matches, the telco said Wednesday it will simulcast all World Cup matches including the final on SBS. In addition, access to Optus Sport will be free to all Australians until Aug. 31 and customers who have already signed up for the service will be refunded.

From Monday to Wednesday, Optus allowed SBS to broadcast all the World Cup games on free-to-air as a "fail-safe backup" and now that fail-safe backup will be extended through all group stage matches and beyond.

As far as we know, technically that might not include all Round of 16 and Quarterfinals matches, as games could be played simultaneously. The call of which ones will be shown will come closer to the end of the group stage matches.

Optus CEO Allan Lew, speaking on a media call this afternoon, stated "this reaffirms our strategy to deliver quality content to customers and have the conviction that when Australians try the product and, given the choice to try the product, they will realise it is a good product."

According to Lew, a "failure in a critical part" of the Optus content delivery network was to blame for the myriad streaming issues encountered on Sunday night, but he assures users that Optus has "continued to improve" the service and were able to deliver the last six group stage matches "without any issue."

As for compensation, Lew said, "Those who have paid us will be refunded the $15 and we will do that over the next few days."

Asked if the added pressure of giving the entire nation access to Optus Sport would further decrease the quality of the streams, Lew was reassuring.

"As part of the testing and end to end view, we have made [the service] more resilient and are now confident when we open it up for free ... we will have capacity to meet the needs of all Australians."

Optus' app has come under fire ever since it acquired the rights to the EPL, but Lew sounded hopeful that the significant kinks it has encountered will be ironed out, ultimately having "a positive flow on effect for the EPL and the next big event" that Optus bids for.

"We've learned a very important lesson," Lew conceded.

First published June 20, 4:45 p.m. AEST.

Update, 5:15 p.m.: Adds additional comment from Optus CEO.

World Cup 2018 in Australia: How to watch the world game.

World Cup 2018: Your complete guide to the sport event of the year.