Yesterday, Sky was again reminded of how intense and instantaneous online outrage can be when advertisers don't deliver on what's promised. In this case, the promise involved simulcast streaming of the new season of Game of Thrones at the same time as viewers located in the United States. Sadly, as 1pm rolled in, the stream failed and the online fury ignited. And while it wasn't difficult to find scathing comments about Sky's streaming mishap, it was quite entertaining to see Slingshot engage in a bit of corporate banter.
When the stream failed, the internet service provider promptly started distributing the message 'winter is buffering'. And while it's unclear whether the social media team at Slingshot was the first to use the phrase, the company's general manager Taryn Hamilton also used it in an NZ Herald comment to jab Sky.
Hamilton's comedic barb isn't that surprising, given that Sky forms part of the group of companies that are currently taking action against CallPlus Group (the company that owns Slingshot) for allowing users to access Global Mode. Throughout the controversy, Hamilton has been vocal in his defence of allowing users access to international sites, saying that it's about giving consumers more choice.
The action taken by Sky alongside MediaWorks, Spark and TVNZ requires CallPlus Group to respond to the issue by 5pm this afternoon. As things stand, CallPlus Group is yet to respond, with the company's chief executive Mark Callander commenting to the Herald: "We've obviously been a little bit distracted [with Australia-based M2's acquisition of CallPlus Group], so again it hasn't been intentionally ignored. We'll go back and have a look at the letters we've received and we'll respond in due course."
In this instance, Sky's attempt to give users instant access to content traditionally released abroad first has fallen flat. And this is further exacerbated by the fact that the first four episodes in the series have already been leaked online. And while this glitch will do little to convince those sitting on the SVOD fence to choose Neon's pastures, it's worth noting that Sky is at least attempting to get the content to viewers as fast as possible.
While the buffering debacle was ongoing yesterday, the NBR urged Kiwis to cut Sky some slack given that the organisation is at least taking progressive steps in an evolving TV market. Furthermore, Sky TV boss John Fellet also shifted blame to "a secure supplier" who failed to deliver a successful stream.
By approximately 3.30pm, the stream had finally recovered, but Sky could no longer refer to it as a simulcast, since it was now two hours behind the US market in delivering the content. And if internet time is measured in scathing Tweets, then two hours would've felt like an eternity to Sky's tech team, which was undoubtedly scrambling to get the stream working.