While some don’t like the news of the NFL’s expansion into streaming services and their increasing exclusivity simply because it’s something different, there’s a real concern to this digital world. The sports world was reminded of it again Wednesday night when the Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics crashed in the fourth quarter of a tightly contested game.
Users watching the game saw the stream heavily disrupted, stuck playing advertisements and missing the crucial final minutes of the game. For many, they missed out on the conclusion, a 123-116 Heat Game One victory.
The YouTube TV Twitter account acknowledged the issue as it was happening, issuing this tweet, but it did little to make basketball fans happy.
To be clear, this game was not an exclusively streamed event. Instead, YouTube TV carried TNT’s stream and traditional cable watchers were able to see the final minutes. But for those who have cut the cord and switched to streaming services like YouTube had no choice but to sit and wait for the issue to be resolved, which did not happen in time.
YouTube vows the issue has been fixed and won’t be an issue going forward. This article is being written just ahead of Game Two but for the company’s sake, hopefully the bugs have been worked out.
While a Heat/Celtics fan won’t impact many Steelers’ fans (though perhaps some, especially given Pittsburgh has no NBA team) it’s a looming problem with YouTube TV taking over NFL Sunday Ticket this fall. The NFL reached an agreement with Google/YouTube to make the move from DirectTV, the company they had partnered with since the subscription’s invention in 1994. It was a mega-deal, up to $2.5 billion per year, that will run for the next seven years.
There is real potential for another crash to happen at some point in the season, especially with the expected surge of NFL fans who will flock to the program. While some without high-speed Internet will be impacted by the move, putting Sunday Ticket on YouTube instead of satellite will bring a slew of new fans who can easily sign up for the service and watch on the go.
The NFL has continued to push to online methods to watch its game. Amazon now owns Thursday Night Football and to their credit, the service was stable and solid for most of last year. But making every game available increases the stakes tenfold and the league will have to hope YouTube has corrected the issues that led to Wednesday’s blackout.