For most fans last night, the Super Bowl delivered one of the most thrilling nights in sports history thanks to the improbable comeback victory by the New England Patriots. But for online viewers, and some subscribers of DIRECTV and Comcast, the broadcast was marred with technical issues that sometimes rendered it unwatchable.
Much like the Atlanta Falcons, the Fox Sports Go app, which offered the game online for free, operated with near precision for the first few hours of action. There were few reports of the usual live streaming problems during a big event such as picture freezing, buffering and login failures.
However, in the fourth quarter, online viewers stormed social media sites to report that the stream had crashed, another reminder that live streaming is almost always a poor first choice to watch a must-see show or sporting event. Over the last few years, the live stream of nearly every major event has experienced at least a small technical snafu.
Fox Sports’ Twitter customer help team acknowledged the streaming failure, but several minutes later said it was fixed, although some viewers disagreed.
However, last night was not just a time to reiterate the dangers of watching live streaming. DIRECTV subscribers in several cities including Tucson, Pittsburgh and Phoenix reported that they either lost their picture during the game, or that their receivers would freeze for several seconds and then jump ahead to live action.
Like Fox, DIRECTV’s Twitter customer help team acknowledged the issue and issued a statement in the fourth quarter that it had been resolved. Again, many viewers disagreed, saying the problem was still happening.
Neither Fox nor DIRECTV ever explained why the technical difficulties began in the first place.
Finally, Comcast subscribers in Northern Virginia could not watch the game at all last night, but it really wasn’t the cable operator’s fault. The area suffered two fires last night that knocked out the power for many residents in the area. And no power means no cable service.
While Comcast should get a pass, the loss of the big game was too much for some subscribers who used the occasion to voice years-long frustration with the cable op’s customer service.
— Phillip Swann