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The Super Bowl of Streaming

10:35 AM -- NBC said the first live stream of the Super Bowl on Sunday attracted 2.1 million unique viewers. While that's a nice number to hang your helmet on, it still represented a sliver of the record 111.3 million that tuned in to watch the New York Giants take down the New England Patriots on regular TV. (See NBC to Stream the Super Bowl .)

This watershed moment in video streaming history might also have brought out a record number of whiners. The complaints ran the gamut: the video quality was blurry and inconsistent; some had connectivity issues; Silverlight performed like garbage; the amount of PC screen real estate used for the picture was too small; the streaming feed ran behind the live TV broadcast. The streaming option lacked the Madonna half-time show. And on, and on. There were even complaints about how the ad loads between the streamed and live TV versions were different.

I was one of the 2.1 million folks who gave it a shot on Sunday, opting to run the game on an iPad connected to my home's Wi-Fi connection. I streamed along as I watched the game on the big screen, setting the tablet down between swigs of Yuengling.



Granted, the streaming experience wasn't picture-perfect, but I thought it was still perfectly watchable. Yes, the on-screen graphics were tough to read at times and the feed did stutter intermittently. Sure, it was annoying that the feeds weren't synched up, with the video stream perpetually running 15 to 30 seconds behind the action on the big TV. The ad load? Big whoop.

But the video quality was no worse -- and, in fact, seemed better -- than what I've typically gotten when I run my Slingbox through the iPad over the same home Wi-Fi network. Still, I shudder at what it might have been like had I been forced to watch the game on a creaky 3G connection.

And I didn't get some of the streaming cut-offs that upset other users on Sunday afternoon. But that's best-effort broadband for you. Nothing's guaranteed. One viewer might get a perfect stream while another gets a pixel-icious mess. And if streaming the game was your only option, you should be glad that you even had that option. Here's hoping it will become an annual tradition.

Despite some fixable hiccups, I'd give the maiden voyage of the Super Bowl streaming experience a grade of B. Not great, but not bad, with room for improvement.

Did you give it a shot on Super Bowl Sunday? What was your experience like?

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable



shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:43:14 PM
re: The Super Bowl of Streaming

I tried tuning in to the SB audio coverage on my Hallicrafters short-wave radio, and results were also disappointing. Maybe it's time for an antenna upgrade. Yuengling? In the heart of Coors country?

kaps 12/5/2012 | 5:43:13 PM
re: The Super Bowl of Streaming

Wow, a B grade seems pretty generous. I think there's lots more room for improvement over what NBC and the NFL had to offer Sunday. At one point during the game I had a laptop open running the NBC site stream, a Verizon smartphone open running NFL Mobile and the live TV shot -- and the Verizon NFL Mobile app was closer to real-time (~20 sec delay) than the NBC online feed. That's not a "B" effort to me.


I agree that for a first broadcast of a big event it's great to see (and think this option will now become standard for big events) but overall I was underwhelmed by the technical hurdles (getting Silverlight on Chrome/Mac platforms, ugh) and the low level of additional quality (screen choices, etc.). Compared to the grandeur of the TV production the online show felt like an afterthought. I'd say a C+ mainly for effort but do some more homework before the next big test... the Olympics.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 5:43:13 PM
re: The Super Bowl of Streaming

Wow, a B grade seems pretty generous. I think there's lots more room for improvement over what NBC and the NFL had to offer Sunday. At one point during the game I had a laptop open running the NBC site stream, a Verizon smartphone open running NFL Mobile and the live TV shot -- and the Verizon NFL Mobile app was closer to real-time (~20 sec delay) than the NBC online feed. That's not a "B" effort to me.


I agree that for a first broadcast of a big event it's great to see (and think this option will now become standard for big events) but overall I was underwhelmed by the technical hurdles (getting Silverlight on Chrome/Mac platforms, ugh) and the low level of additional quality (screen choices, etc.). Compared to the grandeur of the TV production the online show felt like an afterthought. I'd say a C+ mainly for effort but do some more homework before the next big test... the Olympics.

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:43:13 PM
re: The Super Bowl of Streaming

Two words: Rolling Rock. A wise man once told me Philadelphia is a good place to come from.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:43:13 PM
re: The Super Bowl of Streaming

Wow, that's olde school. ;) I'm nearby Philly now so thought I should take a shot at what the natives drink.  But I'm drawing the line there... not about to become an Eagles, Phillies, Flyers or 76ers fan, or a supporter  of whatever the soccer team is 'round these parts. JB


 


 

AESerm 12/5/2012 | 5:43:12 PM
re: The Super Bowl of Streaming

In the screen shot? It's Rainn Wilson thumping for Chevys. I watched for about 10 minutes, before heading over to a party and a big screen. Wilson's irrating taunts might have been aimed at streaming media geeks. I was kind of happy to escape them. (But the Chevy Happy Grad commercial--with the yellow convertible--was a winner.)

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:43:12 PM
re: The Super Bowl of Streaming

Victoria's Secret streamed a fashion show to 1.5M viewers in 1999, so cracking the 2 million mark more than a decade later doesn't seem like such a big deal.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:43:11 PM
re: The Super Bowl of Streaming

Based on the mixed bag of experiences ranging from OK, to passable, to disappointing, to terrible -- based on what platform was being used one thing's pretty clear for the next go-round: They'll need to do a much better job creating a consistent experience whether it's accessed on a tablet, PC, smartphone, etc. But interesting that you did better witth the iPad. I figured if I wasn't pulling my hair out and the stream wasn't cutting out, and it was viewable, it was worth that B. JB

sccullen01 12/5/2012 | 5:43:11 PM
re: The Super Bowl of Streaming

Jeff,


I had a very similar experience. I found the iPad streaming to be much better than the PC-based streaming, and was dissapointed by the delivery, but excited by the effort and the potential. I posted my experiences on our blog:


http://blog.proceranetworks.co...


Cam Cullen


VP Global Marketing


Procera Networks

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