I’m not a sports fanatic like many people are. I can count how many Superbowl’s I’ve watched on one hand and two of them involved the Seattle Seahawks, the team from where I was born. One of them involved the Chargers, I believe, but only because I was invited to a friend’s party. And his wife made it clear to me that I had better not refuse because she would take it rather personally.
But I do like streaming
But I am heavily involved in Streaming. And I’ve concluded that the Superbowl is probably the greatest example of how far and how popular that streaming has become.
But I feel that the Superbowl is possibly the best metric to evaluate just how far streaming has come.
In 2015 a storm hit the day before the big game and I was snowed in at my brother’s house. And while I was already pretty active on various social media platforms dealing with Roku, the big question of that year was “How can I watch the Superbowl on my Roku?”
Streaming the Superbowl in 2015
While I had heard of a few ways to watch it illegally by individuals that created private Roku channels just for the occasion there didn’t seem to be any legal or legitimate way to do it with the popular device. But you could do it from a computer. It didn’t take long before complaints of poor video quality and constant buffering to make its way onto the social media sites along with grumbling to the tune of “if I had known it was going to be this difficult watching a game, I would have waited/not cut the cord” variety.
Not Just The Computer
Last year marked the first time that the Superbowl was available on multiple streaming devices. It streamed through several streaming sources, but again, it was often met with the same complaints of buffering and poor picture quality. Reflection after the game concluded that the reason there were so many issues. There were so many people streaming the game that the services couldn’t keep up. But this year seemed to be a turning point, at least from my casual observations.
Quiet This Year
About an hour before the game began, I saw a mild trend in complaints about buffering. But most of them had to do with one or two specific services. While I had installed the channel where I could watch the game for free on Roku, I wasn’t watching it. During a commercial on my TV program, I flipped my TV to the Roku. The NBC Sports channel was playing a pregame program talking about the two teams. It was the Alabama Hawks and the Harvard Rebels, I believe. You did catch that I don’t pay attention to football, right? But it was a beautiful picture. I decided that I was going to keep streaming the game, while not watching it, to occasionally check in and see how things were developing.
How Did It Go?
Each of my followups showed that the game was streaming quite nicely. I posted about it on a few social media sites and shared my observations and where to watch it. The posts got a few ‘likes’ and a couple of ‘thanks for the info’ replies.
While I did have one minor issue, I’m not convinced that it was due to the streaming source being overworked. While watching the game for a few minutes, I was fiddling with my Roku, suddenly the screen went black, the famous “Netflix” sound and logo appear boomed onto my TV screen.
If you’re a frequent remote control fiddler or have sat on the small black remote, you know the likely reason. So I quickly hit the home button and made my way back to the NBC Sports channel. My first attempt resulted in the never-ending rotating circle letting me know that it was loading, which I studied for a few seconds before hitting my ‘home’ button again and giving it another try. This second attempt resulted in quickly acquiring the live stream of the game.
This is the reason why I’m convinced that Superbowl 2018 is a great example of how far streaming has come. In three years it has gone from “totally crappy” to “great quality”. It appears that NBC and the NFL realize that games are going to need to be available to cord cutters. If they want to survive they need to ensure that it’s as good as you would get on your TV. Sling TV reported the game went off without a hitch on their end too. This despite a huge growth in viewers this year.
I honestly feel that we have just made a major milestone in streaming history here and I’m just as glad about that as I am about the football season coming to an end.