Sky TV: Amazon to blame for Fanpass problems during Saturday's test

RELATED AUDIO: Sky boss John Fellet on his company's full-year result and challenges ahead (Aug 23)

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UPDATE Sept 13: There's been a twist in the tale about problems with Sky TV's Fanpass service during Saturday's test — at least for the social media posters who said they couldn't wait for Amazon to win All Blacks rights then do a better job (see below).

Fanpass is managed by NeuLion, and a Sky TV insider confirms that NeuLion hosts Fanpass at an Amazon Web Services (AWS) across the ditch.

A cable cut in Sydney on Saturday saw packet loss (performance degradation) for multiple sites and services hosted by AWS, including Fanpass and Spark's Lightbox (also hit by AWS problems in June last year).

In short, the problems with Fanpass during the All Blacks vs Los Pumas were Amazon's fault.

It will be of some satisfaction for Sky TV to get that news out there, and the technically literate will appreciate the irony. But it probably won't cut any ice with Fanpass punters.

EARLIER / Sept 12: As the All Blacks prevailed against Los Pumas on Saturday night, Sky TV took a beating on social media.

A number of users of Sky’s online Fanpass service took to Twitter to complain the stream was dropping out or looking pixelated.

“#Fanpass is like watching Lego men running around, so pixelated,” tweeted Louis Reinecke in one of the few posts that used family-friendly language.

Sky TV corporate communications director Kirsty Way says an investigation found “Fanpass buffered for an extended period of time for a small number of customers.”

Buffering is the process where some video is downloaded and stored locally to (if everything is working correctly) help the stream “get ahead” and play smoothly.

Ms Way reiterates that, unlike the inhouse-developed Sky Go, Fanpass is outsourced to the New York-based NeuLion, which also handles streaming platforms for major US sports, including NFL Pass and NHL Pass.

“The issue was ‘upstream’ – outside of Sky’s operations – on Saturday night and, not being in a position to fix it ourselves, we worked with suppliers over Saturday night to resolve it. No further problems have been identified,” she says.

She adds, “I just want to stress the majority of Fanpass customers had no problems at all during the All Blacks test but we are sorry about the small number of customers who did. We have encouraged them to contact us directly to discuss the matter.”

 Sky has not released a breakout number for Fanpass but, at its recent full-year result, it said its Neon and Fanpass services had 79,936 subscribers between them.

There have lately been reports that US giant Amazon could mount a bid for All Blacks rights post-2020, with talks with NZ Rugby starting in April next year.

There has so far been no concrete news on that front. But at least in their anger on Saturday night, a couple of Fanpass users were looking forward to rights changing hands:

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6 Comments & Questions

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hardly ever buffering problems when you have satellite...

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I experienced the glitch on Saturday night. FP responded quickly via Facebook that night and got in touch Monday evening to apologise and offer a $30 credit.

It was unfortunate timing, but i dont believe the issue was strictly FP's fault. I have been using FP for the past month and the service has been great - no loss / buffering during the Mayweather McGregor fight either.

Their customer service response should be commended.

Also, go North Harbour #4from4

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hold on..I only got a $19.99 refund - did you really get a $30 refund?

Also, you are a lot more forgiving than I am... I did not get to see the game

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Streaming of live sport works a lot of the time and will no doubt get better and more reliable over time. Satellite might be a bit old but it has great reach and reliability. I note, that the Deutsche Football League has summoned an immediate meeting with Eurosport following the repeated problems during its Bundesliga live transmissions on Over the top service Eurosport Player.

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I never noticed any problems when I watched it for nothing on Prime an hour later.

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The problem is that the consumers' contracts aren't with AWS; they are with Sky. Saying "it wasn't our fault" just looks like more excuse making from a dinosaur that is now just in it to generate as much free cashflow as possible before the inevitable happens.

It is fine as a business model - invest as little as you can and charge as much as you can get away with. It is just when you invest so little you can't then expect customers to be happy when systems fail and you try to blame others.

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