By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard
The Final Four was, like usual, one of the must watch sporting events of the year. How you were watching it became a matter of if you could watch the Final Four at all. So is streaming ready for mass viewing? Maybe not.
Sling TV, the new streaming service from Dish, had some issues during the Wisconsin vs Kentucky game on Saturday. Peter Kafka of Recode wrote pointed out that Sling TV saw a lot of signups and just a lot of users all jumping on. This caused some people to get crap video or no video at all. (On a personal note, it sounds like the load balancers were not distributed correctly.)
This game was the highest rate game in 22 years of the NCAA Tournament with an overnight rating of 16.4/30, and that’s just on traditional cable television. In the same PR release, the NCAA Tournament did 77 million live streams through Saturday. That’s up 15% from last year.
The demand is there but is the infrastructure there? There are a lot of variables to this. People have pointed out that streaming services have conked out due to high demand in the past. Knowing this, why wasn’t Sling TV ready? Come to find out that Sling is capping the amount of people who can use the service to two million users. While they are nowhere near that number (they are supposedly around 100,000 subscribers) it’s still pretty shocking to see that they couldn’t handle the influx of traffic and new users.
Streaming big sporting events is not going to stop. It is going to continue and it’s going to grow. The bandwidth has to be there and so does the anticipation. Even if you do not see the a massive influx of traffic during an event you have to be ready for it. It’s the old adage, ‘better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.’ Let’s hope Sling TV and others learn from this and are ready the next time a major event happens.