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Friday, June 14, 2024

NFL RedZone, Sunday Ticket Suffer Streaming Issues

  • Subscribers to RedZone had issues using the service on the NFL app and other platforms in Week 1.
  • Sunday Ticket was inaccessible on DirecTV's app and website for many users.
Sunday Ticket
Courtesy Eric Thompson

The first Sunday of the NFL regular season was filled with error messages rather than football content, as widespread issues frustrated subscribers of RedZone and DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket. 

Since home viewers won’t have any choice but to stream “Thursday Night Football” this season, a veteran Amazon executive who worked as the technical adviser under company founder Jeff Bezos did his best to allay concerns. 

“I don’t think there’s any company more prepared than we are to handle that type of scale and that type of challenge,” Jay Marine, Amazon Prime’s global head of sports, said in a statement to Front Office Sports. “It’s what we’re good at.”

Sunday was a reminder that watching sports these days isn’t as easy as tuning to a channel where the fault is traced back to the cable provider or rain clouds obstructing your satellite dish. 

“Sorry for the inconvenience. Please try again,” was a message many Sunday Ticket subscribers received. 

DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket’s app and website had issues throughout Sunday. 

DirecTV, an AT&T subsidiary, is in its final year of its $1.5 billion per-year deal with the NFL for Sunday Ticket, which allows subscribers to watch out-of-market games. Those who paid $300 to access those games took to social media to complain even before the first kickoffs. 

“We recognize we missed an opportunity to deliver for a small number of our NFL Sunday Ticket customers this past Sunday and will be reaching out to them to make this right as soon as possible,” DirecTV said in a statement to FOS on Monday.

There won’t likely to be a fallback to satellite next year and beyond for Sunday Ticket. Apple, Google, Amazon, and Disney are among the bidders — potentially paying a rights fee that could be almost double what DirecTV shells out now — as Sunday Ticket heads toward being a streaming-only service for home subscribers. 

Bars, restaurants, and businesses will likely have an option to receive the games via DirecTV, like the recently announced deal for “Thursday Night Football.” 

Beyond Sunday Ticket, RedZone was also hit with issues , especially in the early broadcast window. RedZone — offered by several providers as an add-on, including on NFL’s own app — were largely resolved by 2:30 p.m. ET. 

But, as is often the case, the problems were not fixed for everyone, with Sling subscribers especially hit hard.

Sling, a subsidiary of Dish, has long touted NFL RedZone as a major draw for multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD). The issue with its subscribers lasted longer than other MVPD and the cable providers who resolved their RedZone late in the first window of games. 

“Yep. We fumbled today,” Sling TV wrote on Twitter

Messages left with Dish by FOS were not returned. 

According to one source, the root of the problem appears to have been with a cloud service NFL Media uses to distribute RedZone from its studio in Southern California. But Sling’s problems continued as subscribers to other platforms were able to watch RedZone.

The inescapable push to streaming won’t stop and this was hardly the first hiccup. 

We are only five years removed from arguably the biggest streaming fail — the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor — as many who paid $100 for the pay-per-view event saw a black screen with an error message.

A class-action lawsuit filed by Phoenix-based attorney Hart Robinovitch on behalf of purchasers of the fight was settled about six months later. 

“It is disappointing that streaming providers of live sports experiences continue to have problems delivering their product to viewers consistently,” Robinovitch, a partner at the firm Zimmerman Reed, told FOS. “A problem or delay with the live delivery of a sporting event stream completely ruins the viewers’ experience which cannot be recovered or replaced.”

“Once the game or play happens, value is immediately lost and the consumer while understandably frustrated, has suffered a quantifiable financial injury. Consumers who experienced the streaming problem today, should be provided a refund.”

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