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News Update
Should DIRECTV Give Refunds to Sunday Ticket Subs?
By Swanni


Washington, D.C. (September 17, 2013) - This is an update on our earlier coverage of DIRECTV's difficulties in streaming the NFL Sunday Ticket. See earlier article below.

For two straight Sundays, DIRECTV's web site has had periodic outages, preventing the satcaster from offering its NFL Sunday Ticket games via streaming.

That may not sound like a big deal, but DIRECTV has heavily promoted its NFL Sunday Ticket Max package, which for $75 more, gives you the games online as well as the traditional satellite TV broadcasts. The Max package costs $299.95 while the non-online edition costs just $224.95.

So, should DIRECTV officially offer partial refunds to its Sunday Ticket Max subscribers?

Before you say yes, consider this: The online subscribers could still watch the games on TV, and most probably did. DIRECTV's Sunday Ticket app, which also streams the games, appeared to be working on both Sundays; the web site was the issue. And, finally, while the web site outrages were a pain, they didn't last longer than roughly an hour on either Sunday.



We asked DIRECTV.com spokesman Robert Mercer for a comment on whether his company will offer refunds and he declined to comment. But that doesn't mean DIRECTV wouldn't issue you a partial refund if you called to complain. The company is famous for making 'off-the-books' deals to keep angry customers happy.

But the question still remains whether DIRECTV should make a partial refund official to tell the world that it's acknowledging its failure in the first two weeks and that it's taking responsibility for it.

The satellite service may be reluctant to do so because it's not clear that it won't have a similar web site snafu this Sunday. If it does, I would think that three straight Sundays would demand an official issuance of a partial refund, perhaps half the difference between the non-Max package fee and the Max fee.

But if Sunday goes smoothly, DIRECTV can put this problem behind it without going through the hassle of issuing refunds and perhaps making it a bigger story in so doing.

What do you think? Should DIRECTV issue a partial refund?

And, why is DIRECTV having this problem in the first place? Is live streaming that tricky?

You can offer your comments below the articles.

See earlier articles on this subject below.
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News Update
DIRECTV Sunday Ticket Streaming Fails Again
By Swanni


Washington, D.C. (September 15, 2013) - This is an update on our earlier coverage of DIRECTV's difficulties in streaming the NFL Sunday Ticket. See earlier article below.

For the second straight Sunday, DIRECTV.com went down today after the beginning of the day's NFL games, leaving NFL Sunday Ticket online subscribers unable to watch the games via live streaming at the site.

The site outage lasted for roughly an hour. During the shutdown, DIRECTV.com posted a message saying the site was down and urged online Sunday Ticket customers to use the Ticket's app to watch games. (DIRECTV offers the games online at its site and via its Sunday Ticket app.)

Some DIRECTV viewers wrote on Twitter that the app wasn't working, either, but others said they were able to watch the games on the app during the site blackout.

DIRECTV's Twitter page for customer service, @DIRECTVService , noted that the site was down shortly after 1 p.m. ET but said it would return shortly. The site finally returned to service around 2 p.m. ET.

The satcaster experienced the same problem last week as the site went down for more than an hour. And even after it returned, DIRECTV's Twitter page said customers were still having occasional issues.

DIRECTV has been heavily promoting its $300 NFL Sunday Ticket Max service which includes live streaming of each Sunday's football games as well as the traditional satellite broadcasts.

In addition, DIRECTV's Sunday web traffic may be
heavier than expected thanks to its promotion with the Madden NFL 25th anniversary edition video game which includes free online access to the Sunday Ticket as part of the $100 fee.

DIRECTV has not officially commented on why it has had trouble streaming the games in the first two weeks of the NFL season.

See our earlier article on this subject below.
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News Analysis
DIRECTV & The NFL: Live Streaming Fails Again
By Swanni


Washington, D.C. (September 10, 2013) - DIRECTV has been boldly promoting its $300 NFL Sunday Ticket Max service which includes live streaming of each Sunday's football games as well as the traditional satellite broadcasts.

So you can imagine the reaction after DIRECTV posted this message on its Twitter page on Sunday during the league's opening week of games:

"Due to traffic, some customers are experiencing intermittent timeouts and access issues (while trying to stream the games). Please keep trying."

And that was the good news. Earlier, DIRECTV acknowledged that its web site, where the games were being streamed, had crashed entirely. The satcaster advised customers to go to their DIRECTV app where, presumably, the games could still be viewed online.

The incident may have been caused by heavier-than-expected traffic related to DIRECTV's promotion with the Madden NFL 25th anniversary edition video game which includes free online access to the Sunday Ticket as part of the $100 fee.


But regardless of the reason, the Sunday shutdown is another example of why live streaming, particularly for sports, is not ready for prime time. And it's another example of why people who say cord-cutting -- dropping your pay TV service to watch online video -- is the next big thing have no idea what they're talking about.

While DIRECTV eventually fixed the problem, you can not tell a sports fan that he can't watch a game because a web site has crashed, or because there is too much traffic, or that his picture needs to 'rebuffer.'

If you're watching a movie via streaming, a rebuffering message is an inconvenience. If you're watching your favorite football team, a rebuffering message at a pivotal time in the game is enough to make you throw something through a window.

Until streaming becomes more reliable, it will never -- NEVER -- replace the traditional cable or satellite operator. Sports fans will never accept it.

It should be noted that this is not the first time that live streaming has been a major FAIL during a live sports broadcast.
NBC was overwhelmed with complaints when it tried to stream the 2012 Summer Olympics.

“The expectation right now with the consumer is getting a crystal clear signal each and every time, and in 2012 we’re just not there yet,” Rick Cordella, NBC Sports’ senior vice president and general manager of digital media, told Streaming Media magazine last year.

Cordella hinted that better days are coming and he's right. The technology will improve. But will it improve enough so streaming live events, particularly sports, can be considered as reliable as watching those same events on your cable or satellite service?

Not likely, not at least in the next several years. Too many consumers, struggling with today's sluggish economy, have opted to buy slower but cheaper Internet plans from their Internet Service Providers. Consequently, for them, watching streaming (live or not) is a hit and miss thing. Most programs are interrupted by rebuffering messages.

And if I hear someone out there saying that there are other solutions, such as the new Aereo local TV service, well, I have some bad news for you. Techhive.com has just posted this horror story of a writer trying to watch Aereo's streaming of the New England Patriots-Buffalo Bills game on Sunday:

"For about an hour, Aereo's live stream stopped to buffer every 30 seconds or so, rendering the entire second quarter and part of the third quarter virtually unwatchable," the writer says.

He did say the issue cleared up later in the game, but do you really want to watch your favorite team without seeing the entire second quarter and part of the third quarter?
Just so you can say you're a cord-cutter?

I didn't think so.

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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of TVPredictions.com. He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at
swann@tvpredictions.com or at 703-505-3064.



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