Even as the football World Cup fever gripped the nation, hundreds of fans were left dismayed by SonyLIV’s patchy online streaming of the first match between Russia and Saudi Arabia. The stream was scheduled to start at 8-:30 pm, but many viewers complained that they could not access it at all for the first 10-15 minutes.

Indian viewers have only three portals to stream the World Cup online: Reliance’s JioTv app, Airtel’s TV app, and SonyLIV. Viewers of SonyLiv can opt to view the stream for free, with a 5-minute lag, or pay a fee to watch it live.

Even paying for the service did not come with full benefits, as subscribers suffered a range of problems in streaming. It was no better for the free service.

Viewers complained that even after paying the subscription fee, they got choppy reception, limited access to the match’s link, random restarts and, above all, no option to switch the language of commentary, which was set to Hindi as default.

Subscribers also complained on social media about the video quality, saying it was not up to the mark even when set at the highest, ‘Best ‘setting.

Lalit Gangwar (ch30_lalit) tweeted: “just hating #sonyliv pathetic stream quality, don't know how to switch from Hindi to English commentary and match is randomly restarting from the beginning.”

Editor of TechradarIndia, Prasid Banerjee (@undertecher), tweeted: “Is it just me or is @SonyLIV streaming the #FifaWorldCup2018 in Hindi only? Language select set to English, but commentary in Hindi!”

“#SonyLIV I’m just happy about one thing. I'm not alone. I'm not the only one suffering after paying for your pathetic services. Thank God for that. #SonyLIV #FIFAWorldCup2018,” tweeted @rudha13

‘Temporary slowdown’

When contacted by BusinessLine , Uday Sodhi, EVP and Head – Digital Business, Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN), said: “Some of our viewers may have experienced a temporary slowdown while streaming the match between Russia and Saudi Arabia. As fans of the sport ourselves, we realise that every moment of a match matters. We remain committed to delivering... football fans a seamless viewing experience and look forward to their continued support and adoration for the game.”

For now, it seems the only way for Indians to watch the World Cup without interruption is on their television sets, but there is hope that SonyLIV will be able to deliver seamless streaming soon.

(The writer is an intern with BL in Mumbai)