By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
More than 30 years of experience covering TV technology.

Reader Question

TV Answer Man, I can’t believe how horrible it was to watch the Sunday Ticket today (Sunday, October 29). I couldn’t get to a game without having to see a spinning wheel or black screen for like a minute. It was terrible. Are they going to refund us? — Clark, Dallas.

What Happened to the NFL Sunday Ticket?

Clark, YouTube yesterday suffered its first widespread technical meltdown during the NFL Sunday Ticket with a large number of subscribers protesting on social media that they couldn’t tune to a game without first seeing a spinning wheel or black screen for 20 seconds or more. As a Sunday Ticket subscriber, I witnessed the same issue for most of the early afternoon games (1-4 p.m. ET). The time lag was annoying and inconsistent; some games had the issue while others did not.

Is the Buffering Problem Fixed?

However, by 3 p.m. ET, it appeared that the issue had been resolved although YouTube never provided an update saying the problem had been fixed. The streamer’s last word on the tech troubles came early this morning when it suggested the buffering was affecting all YouTube services, not just the Ticket:

Is YouTube Doing a Good Job With the Sunday Ticket?

I have a few comments I want to make before I address your question regarding refunds. YouTube, which is hosting the Sunday Ticket this year after it was an exclusive on DIRECTV for 28 seasons, had a relatively error-free first seven weeks of the season. Although many (myself included) thought it might come out of the gate with streaming issues, it performed almost perfectly from week one until yesterday. Live streaming is still an unreliable delivery technology but Google, the owner of the two YouTube services (YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels) should be praised for its performance. (Yes, until yesterday.) In addition to few issues (yes, before yesterday), Google managed to cut the live stream real-time delay to around 20 seconds or less, something many thought would be impossible.

But yesterday’s snafus is another reminder that live streaming is still not as reliable as cable and satellite (although they have their own issues from time to time).

Will There Be Refunds?

Now as for refunds, the YouTube’s customer help team on X told angry fans yesterday that there would be no refunds. That could change today when company executives reassess the day’s events and the media’s reaction. But for now, no refunds.

Clark, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at swann@tvanswerman.com Please include your first name and hometown in your message.

— Phillip Swann