beIN Sports issues refunds to Kiwis after EPL coverage crashes on crucial final day

Chris Keall,
Publish Date
Monday, 13 May 2019, 4:40PM
For Manchester United fans, the streaming fail was a merciful release. Their team lost 0-2 to already-relegated Cardiff. (Photo / Getty)
For Manchester United fans, the streaming fail was a merciful release. Their team lost 0-2 to already-relegated Cardiff. (Photo / Getty)

beIN Sports is in the process of contacting its New Zealand customers - including this writer - to apologise and issue refunds after its stream fell over on the most important day of the English Premier League season.

Subscribers to the $20/month streaming service are being offered a one-month refund.

The company also apologised in a post on its Facebook post page (albeit without mentioning the refund programme) saying that for "service to be disrupted at the season's most crucial moment simply isn't good enough."

Error messages about too many connections strongly suggested beIN was simply overloaded, but a person close to the situation told the Herald there was still no official verdict on the cause of the steaming failure.

In the early hours of this morning, Kiwi football fans were left furious when beIN Sports' coverage crashed for the vital last day of the English Premier League.

"beIN, you suck more than Man Utd right now," angry subscriber Mike Rodgers said in a Facebook post.

As football-related insults go, that's perhaps the harshest thing you can say about a company at this point in time.

But that's what the Rodgers posted to beIN Sports' Facebook page after the football streaming service failed overnight - with the final results poised to decide who would be crowned champions.

Liverpool (facing Wolves) and Manchester City (playing Brighton) were neck-and-neck as the final 10 games all kicked off at 2pm Sunday UK time - 2am Monday NZT.

But Kiwi football fans who tied to log-on to beIN's app to watch the action - including your correspondent - were met various error messages including "too many connections" one saying the service was in maintenance mode.

One of the overloaded error messages displayed by beIN Sports last night. Source / Roger Bridge, Facebook.

One of the overloaded error messages displayed by beIN Sports last night. (Source / Roger Bridge, Facebook)

And many of those who did manage to eventually log-on only saw a few moments of the action before the stream failed.

Carly Bateman posted, "Kept getting kicked out of BeIN for no reason and so only saw about 2 mins of first half and last 15 mins of second half."

Christian Parker railed, "This is bs couldn't even watch the final day run in got up at 2am only to be let down, unbelievable, you take our money [$20/month] and don't deliver very unhappy customer here — feeling angry."

Many demanded refunds. beIN was silent.

It seemed beIN was simply overloaded, not offering enough server capacity to cope with the interest in the final day of the season - even though it should have been keenly aware of the heightened level of interest as the competition went down to the wire.

Among dozens of other angry posts was: "You're getting sacked in the morning," - a sarcastic reference to one of English football fans stock chants at a failing manager.

But beIN is already checked out. Last night was the final time - at least in this contract cycle - that will stream English Premier League games to Kiwis, though some might stay on to brave its Championship (English second division), La Liga and Bundesliga action.

Spark Sport has won local English Premier League rights for the next three seasons from 2019/2020, kicking off on August 10. For local football fans, the only way is up.

While beIN has infuriated subscribers with its failure to post any response, Spark has been all-hands-on deck to get its new service up to snuff in its early days (which have seen a couple of glitches with Formula One and hockey coverage).

Photo / Prasanna Kumarâ, Facebook.

(Photo / Prasanna Kumar‎, Facebook)

Still, the Kiwi telco won't appreciate beIN's shambolic effort, which is a bad look for all streamers, and will undermine confidence in the technology - just as Optus' FIFA World Cup fail across the Tasman did last year.

The Al Jazeera-owned beIN Sports bid a rumoured $12m to win local EPL rights from Lightbox Sport (a joint venture between Spark and Coliseum Sports Media) for the three seasons from 2016/17.

The deal saw all games offered through beIN Sports, with two beIN channels also offered through partner Sky TV.

beIN's app seemed ill-starred from the start. The 2016/17 season kicked off in August, but beIN didn't get its local service up-and-running until October.

Now, after poor form throughout, its contract is finally up. Football fans won't miss it.