The live streaming business can be a welcome alternative to costly cable and satellite TV services, particularly during a must-see event such as March Madness, which begins today.
That is, if you can forgive the occasional technical snafu, and the delay between the stream and real time.
What’s that? You were aware that live streaming services are sometimes interrupted by buffering and other issues, particularly during shows with a large viewing audience? But you weren’t aware that the live stream is often 30-60 seconds (or more) behind the real time action of a live sporting event, as seen on a cable or satellite system?
It’s true. Live streaming services will purposely delay a stream to better manage how it will appear when it reaches the home. The longer the delay, the longer the live streaming service has to smooth out any technical kinks that would cause buffering for the home viewer. If the stream was not delayed, it would often be unwatchable.
“When watching a sporting event on a live OTT (‘Over-The-Top,’ the industry term for live streaming), like Sling TV, you may see a minor delay while streaming. These delays occur because of the added time it takes for data to transfer to your device,” writes @SlingAnswers, the Twitter customer service team for Sling TV.
During a big event such as March Madness, the delay can be a big problem for users of social media sites, such as Twitter. If they are watching a live stream of a game that’s 60 seconds behind a cable or satellite service, the latter’s subscribers may post the game’s top plays before the live streaming sub has even seen them. Imagine the horror if you learned about that buzzer-beater on Twitter instead of on your TV screen.
So Sling TV’s Twitter customer service team has offered five ways the live streaming viewer can avoid what is known as ‘spoilers’ — learning what happens in a show or game before you can see it for yourself.
1. Stay In the Moment
Sling TV does not explain what that means, but presumably it’s to advise streamers to not worry about watching a game that’s on a delay. Instead, try to pretend that you are watching the action live.
2. Turn Off Notifications
There’s nothing worse than a cable TV subscriber sending you a text saying, ‘Hey, did you see that catch?! We’re going to the Super Bowl now!’ — before you’ve seen the great catch that will send your team to the Super Bowl now! So Sling TV suggests turning off all text and social media notifications while watching the game.
3. Call Out That Friend Who’s Spoiling It
If a person you follow on Twitter or Facebook starts posting game results, or pivotal moments in a favorite drama, reply that he should knock it off. Tell him that your stream is a bit delayed and he’s ruining the game (or show) for you.
4. Stay Off Sports Apps
Similarly, sports apps will post frequent updates on big games, such as scores and highlights. You will see these on the app before you see them on your TV.
5. Get Off Social Media
That would seem to be the most drastic of the five suggestions, but arguably, the most salient one. If you’re on social media while watching a live stream, it’s just a matter of time before you’ll run into a spoiler. Someone will get so excited about a big play that he can’t help but comment on it on Twitter or Facebook.
So, Sling TV suggests it’s better to stay in the moment, unplug, and just watch your game or show.
— Phillip Swann