The 2013 AFL season kicked off last night. Essendon upset Adelaide at home and the AFL upset online fans around the world. Their international AFL TV service couldn’t handle the pressure and their Australian video stream for mobile and tablet users also buckled with services not restored until half time.
The season package costs $99 a year for Australian residents and $120 for overseas fans. Despite some swift twitter apologies by the league fans were clearly not happy about the outage.
While these things do happen it’s pretty astonishing that some load balancer testing wasn’t done ahead of the first match of the season. Unless there were hundreds of last minute subscriptions I can’t see how the AFL didn’t see this coming. Who goes to the effort of subscribing to online sport and then doesn’t watch the first match?
The AFL is doing all it can to grow the game internationally pouring plenty of cash into development leagues in China, the US and other parts of the world. The Swans even play the Saints for Premiership points in New Zealand this year. Ironically, the 2013 AFL TV commercial is all about the world watching ‘Australia’s Game’. How unfortunate that online fans had to resort to stable illegal streams hosted in Pakistan or (cover your ears) radio to get coverage.
With sports scrambling to get their heads around IPTV and doing all they can to make a buck (literally for the NBL), this balls up is a valuable learning for the Aussie Rules. Lets hope that, come finals time, the league has sorted out its technical issues and can provide the online service that the great game deserves.