J.League broadcasters DAZN suffered major technical stumbles during the league’s opening round on February 25 and 26, drawing harsh criticism from observers and marking an ominous start to the recently-launched 10-year, $2 billion partnership.
Fans without access to local television broadcasts were faced with delays of up to two minutes, frequent buffering and skipping, and occasional service outages.
These problems culminated on Sunday evening, when subscribers were unable to load the channel featuring Gamba Osaka vs Ventforet Kofu as other sports remained accessible.
While a stream for the match was eventually established on a channel reserved for Japanese men’s volleyball as well as on the Perform-owned football website Goal, these measures were only announced by the league and DAZN midway through the second half of the dramatic 1-1 draw.
After issuing a short apology on their official homepage, the J.League posted the entirety of the match to their YouTube channel.
Users on Twitter were quick to pile on throughout the day, including one fan who spotted a buffering screen at a DAZN booth outside of Roasso Kumamoto’s home ground of Egao Kenko Stadium:
— どついさん@がんばらない (@dotui) February 26, 2017
Meanwhile, fans of J2 side Zweigen Kanazawa were greeted by occasional black screens at a public viewing of their team’s 1-0 away defeat to Ehime FC:
— Z女りえ (@rie894) February 26, 2017
Both the J.League and DAZN have struggled to win over customers with the online-only approach, a dramatic departure from previous longtime broadcaster SkyPefecTV. Pre-season promotions included extensive FAQs explaining the ins and outs of the service for fans who have long been accustomed to satellite boxes.
The J.League’s international broadcasting rights also remain in limbo, with an announcement yet to be made in regards to where fans outside of Japan can watch the new season.