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Super Bowl Streaming: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The Patriots weren't the only losers last night.

The Super Bowl is over with a clear victory for the underdog Philadelphia Eagles over the New England Patriots. However, the game delivered a split verdict for fans of live streaming.

Here is a recap of the Good, the Bad, and The Ugly of watching the big game without a pay TV subscription, or antenna.

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The Good
By nearly all accounts (viewer posts and technical measurements), the NBC live stream of the game performed well throughout the night, and on all platforms. Few viewers posted complaints on social media sites, and many online watchers said the picture was clear and vivid.

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However, two issues that did emerge:

1. The NBC stream was often delayed more by than one minute behind the broadcast on pay TV. This was particularly bothersome for social media users who discovered game outcomes on Twitter and Facebook before they were displayed on their screens.

2. NBC did not show all the commercials that aired on the regular broadcast, according to Sports Illustrated. With many fans tuning in to watch the ads, which traditionally are more entertaining during the Super Bowl, this was a negative.

However, overall, NBC should be happy with last night’s result.

The Bad
PlayStation Vue suffered widespread technical issues during the first half with thousands of users posting complaints about system outages, frequent buffering and login problems. The Sony-owned service seemed to rally in the second half with far fewer subscribers reporting complaints. But it was a bad night for Vue.

The Ugly
Hulu Live wins the trophy for worst Super Bowl streaming performance. Subscribers reported some login issues prior to the game. But the real fail came in the exciting final two minutes of the game when Hulu crashed for many users. It doesn’t appear that it was a system outage for everyone, but enough people were inconvenienced that Hulu issued an apology.

“We are aware of a technical issue that is impacting some of our NBC feeds. At this time we recommend users to close and relaunch their Hulu App as a workaround,” Hulu tweeted at 10:17 p.m. ET.

A few hours later, Hulu’s Twitter customer service team came back with another mea culpa:

“Apologies for the disruption this evening. While the interruption could not have come at a more important time, we are confident we can prevent this in the future,” Hulu wrote at 12:12 a.m. ET.

The effort to make amends fell on deaf ears on Twitter. Subscribers were still irate.

“Especially considering you’ll only have to stream for about 10 people after tomorrow,” sniffed @larrykokoszka.

Bottom line: Once again, if you decide to use a streaming service to watch a big game, or big programming event such as a final episode or awards show, you run the risk of experiencing frequent technical issues. While one, two, or even three streamers might have a good night, there’s a good chance that one, two, or three others will not. And you can’t know ahead of time which ones will perform reliably because all live streaming services undergo technical issues from time to time.

Live streaming simply isn’t ready for prime time yet.

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— Phillip Swann

About TV Answer Man (874 Articles)
The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than two decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television.

2 Comments on Super Bowl Streaming: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

  1. After subscribing to Hulu live for the last five months I canceled Saturday. Last week had been unbearable. I switched over to a trial of YouTube live TV and had no issues during the game.

  2. My decision to drop Hulu Live last week was a good one. Hulu needs time to get it’s act together. It clearly isn’t there yet. I still have Hulu classic but I watch it at least 75 percent less often than I did Hulu Live.

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