Diary of a Sports Cord Cutter: Sling vs Fubo vs Hulu

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 10.15.2017

Being a sports fan and a cord cutter has it’s advantages but it also has it’s downsides. One of those downsides is that you may have to have more than one service in order to get all of the channels required to watch the games you’d want to watch (depending on the sport and your fan level). While that sounds simple enough, switching between the two apps is not exactly quick or simple and there is still the issue of user experience and that whole buffering thing. But if you get tired of the service, dropping it and signing up for another one takes a whole five minutes.

I have been a Sling TV user for about two years now. After a slow start and the occasional reboot, I have found the service a solid investment. The only knock on Sling from my perspective is that it doesn’t have CBS Sports Network or the Big Ten Network. To that end, I subscribed to another service, Fubo TV, in late summer.

Fubo TV touts itself as the ‘sports fan’ service. Or at least that’s the feeling I get from their ad’s and imagery. Fubo was going well, they had some of the channels I was missing with Sling and more of the financial channels like CNBC and Fox Business. Their interface lacked a lot. Want to go between channels, you have to completely exit that channel, scroll for the next one, and then click on two different screens.

 

Fubo TV’s downfall for me came during two weeks earlier this year. First, I was doing everything I could to stay awake for the end of the Texas vs USC matchup and on USC’s final drive in regulation, the feed went out. Fubo TV allows the user, at least in the Denver metro area, to get the local CBS and Fox affiliate. I was laying in bed when the feed went out and dragged myself out of bed and to the couch to watch overtime on the over-the-ar signal.

The next weekend during the afternoon, the service went out all together. A tweet confirmed the outage and also confirmed my switching over to Hulu.

Hulu is one of the relatively newer OTT services. While the interface is more stylistic than Fubo TV’s, it’s confusing and you still cannot watch a channel and look for another show without completely exiting the channel. Sling TV’s interface allows you to do this and to this point, I find it far superior to Fubo TV or Hulu’s.

Hulu’s service to this point I have found stable and reliable. It is geared more towards the non-sport fan but you can at least set your own channel listing. Drawbacks include when you click on a game, if the TV listing says it’s over and it’s not, you have to go to the channel directly instead of the game itself. Another is you have to dig for the beta live TV service to watch live TV on a web browser and if you’re OTT device is an Apple TV….we’ll that’s not going to end well.

Another drawback is that when you first start Hulu, after a few moments of viewing, I regularly encounter a buffer screen.

It’s annoying and in the middle of a play, soul crushing, but nothing outside of the realm of fixability.

To go a little Bill O’Reily on you, here’s the bottom line:

Sling TV is thus far the best service as far as reliability and user experiencE are concerned. It’s drawbacks are the amount of people who can watch at one time, time shifting (backing up a play so you can see that amazing catch one more time) and the lack of the Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network and local channels.

Fubo TV lacks in stability, user interface and the lack of ESPN channels. The first two were so bad that I went to another service.

Hulu has a slick interface that was designed by someone who clearly wants to show off their design skills. It has local channels and just about every sports channel you’d want except PAC 12 Network and NFL RedZone.

If you are going to go with one service, Hulu might be it but it’s hard to push Sling TV aside especially if user experience is important to you.

The good news is that if you want to change services, it takes about 15 minutes.

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The Sunday – Goodbyes and Celebrations

Compiled by Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 10.1.2017

Goodbyes

Matt Cain announced that he will retire this week. It’s odd to talk about ‘retiring’ when they are only 33 years old but Cain did pitch 13 years with the San Francisco Giants, win three World Series, and throw a perfect game. Cain didn’t finish his career with a winning record but he was incredibly important to the Giants organization. He was the rock they relied on as they built themselves into a three time world champion. He will always be a Giant and he will be missed.

We lost a coach this weekend. Former Purdue and Wyoming head coach Joe Tiller passed away at the tender age of 74.

Barkley v Love

Let’s face it, the Heisman Trophy is coming down to two people; Penn State’s Saqoun Barkley and Stanford’s Bryce Love. Below is a little taste as to why.

Celebrations & Analysis

While much gets made about the celebrations in football, you have to tip your hat to the Yankees for this one.

No one will ever question Addison Russell’s heart. He knocked over a St Louis Cardinals fan nachos….and then brought him a replacement.

And possibly the best description ever….

 

 

The Sunday – Games

Compiled By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 9.24.2017

The Games

The NFL games on Sunday are being overshadowed by the reactions of players, teams and owners to President Trump’s comments. Some players kneeled, other locked arms and some didn’t come out for the national anthem at all. All this can be discussed other places besides this blog.

What’d I’d like to focus on are games. The last second wins, the amazing catches and horrifically bad officiating that everyone can agree on were just bad.

Tom Brady: The Old Guy Who Can Through Dimes.

This is a 15 yard penalty…..really?

Oh just a little chip shot for the win…

How bout this for your first NFL catch?

Least we forget about Pierre Garcon’s catch from Thursday.

But still, OBJ will do OBJ things.

Then the Bears do Bears things.

 

Save And Fail

MLS is coming down the home stretch and still give us some amazing moments week in and week out.

Mr Rimando…..Sir!

Dude

But nothing may beat DC United’s Patrick Mullins scoring 4 goals…..in 31 minutes.

 

Giveth and Taketh

And the squirrel.

 

Yep

The Sunday – The Return Of Unpredictable

Compiled by Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 9.3.2017

Best

There are no words. It’s just awesome.

Focus And Failures

How bout New York Mets field reporter Steve Gelbs on Saturday? In the middle of a piece and just snags a foul ball.

This guy….not such a good grab.

Best Of Saturday

And this guy is never going to live it down….

Look out….

Troll of the Week

How bout the Vegas Golden Knights trolling the San Jose Sharks.

The Sunday – Putting It Aside

Compiled by Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 8.27.2017

Weekend

It was suppose to be a big weekend for sports. There was the return of college football,MLB pennate races, MLS rivalry week and of course the ‘biggest fight ever’. This all of course has ended up being eclipsed by Hurricane Harvey which has put the Houston area underwater.

The remnants of the storm have put sporting events up in the air as teams, schools and games figure out what to do next. Rice’s football team returns from Sydney, Australia is in question. The team was beaten up by  #14 ranked Stanford 62-7 on Saturday night. They are due to land in Los Angeles on Monday and from there they will have to make a decision on what to do next.

Rice is among a couple of schools and games that have their first week up in the air.

The Houston Texans will be practicing in Dallas for the week. They changed their travel plans after their game against the New Orleans Saints on Saturday night. After the game on Thursday in Dallas, it’s up in the air on what the Texans will do next.

The Houston Astros are also heading to Dallas after their series against the Los Angeles Angels over the weekend. Whether or not they will play the Texas Rangers this week in Houston is up in the air.

Baseball Rules

Things got ugly on Thursday after what essentially relates to ‘baseball rules’. The rule goes, you hit our main guy, we hit your main guy. Sometimes it goes off without a hitch. Other times it turns into this.

 

Oh So Pretty

The Ultimate Catch

The best catch of the year may not be in the major leagues but in the Little League World Series.

Spectacle

Floyd Mayweather defeated Conor McGregor by TKO in the 10th round. It wasn’t really a surprise unless you really thought that an MMA fighter was going to beat the best boxer of all time in a boxing match.

Despite all the hype from those in the combat sports realm, the event was far from a sellout. According to the LA Times, T-Mobile arena was 6,000 people short of a sellout. 

 

Diary of a Sports Cord Cutter: Coming True

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 8.7.2017

In a post back in May I pointed out how the little guys were primed for big things when it came to over-the-top (OTT) services. I thought this might be six months off but I was wrong. Two months later The Big Sky Conference signed a deal to have all of their football and basketball games shown on Pluto TV which can be found on just about every OTT device (Roku, Amazon Fire, etc). It’s a trend that will continue and the time for your own private sports channel is finally worth doing.

While the Big Sky Conference isn’t going to bring huge numbers to Pluto TV, it is a niche group. The alumni from Eastern Washington who now lives in Austin,Texas can see their Eagles square off against Portland State. The Montana State Bobcat alum who lives in Sacramento, doesn’t have to make the trek to Bozeman to see them take on Montana in November. It may not seem all that impressive but it’s giving consumers what they want which means they will probably stick around longer which means you can sell more ads and generate more revenue.

The National Lacrosse League (NLL) is showing how to make your own network by using the right combination of platforms to reach your audience. As a recent Bloomberg article pointed out that the NLL is able to charge customers a $35 subscription to watch the league’s OTT channel but it also gives fans a game a week live on Twitter for free.

People are starting to see not just the economic benefit that moving to a straight OTT platform can provide but also the indirect revenue that it can generate.

Mountain West Championship 2016

One of the major topics of discussion that this years Mountain West Conference media days was the possible move away from traditional broadcast partners and to their own OTT channel. Why? Well one of the biggest complaints coming out of the conference the last few years has been the kick off times. Boise State currently has five games scheduled for kick off 8pm or later and three games on week nights. When you get into October and November, it’s not exactly getting any warmer in the mountains when the sun goes down and fans are starting to stay home. That means less revenue from tickets, concessions, parking, etc. Fans have been complaining about this for a few years now and by the sound of it, Commissioner Craig Thompson is listening.

Each conference and league looks at cord cutting a different way but in the end it’s all about one thing, money. Whether it’s about holding on to revenue or if it’s about generating more, each league and conference needs to come up with their own acceptance criteria of what’s best for them. The good news is that there are plenty of platforms and plenty of combinations to try to find out which one is going to suit them the best.

What They Should Do Now

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 7.26.2017

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a lack of the written word on FoxSports.com recently. As you know Fox Sports has to go all in on video on their website. Vice recently followed suit this past week. And of course Sports Illustrated and ESPN have laid off a large portion of their writers over the not to distant past. Whether you agree or disagree with the decisions, direction of the sites, etc, one things is certain, there are a lot of quality sports writers out there wondering what to do next. Well, I have an idea.

There are a lot of reasons why a company lays off it’s employees. A lot of times the employees did nothing wrong, it’s strictly a numbers game and that includes what they are paying said employee in salary and of course the ever rising cost of health insurance.

The main reason for the layoffs is that the media landscape continues to shift beneath the feet of journalists, commentators, execs, teams, conferences, and fans. So it’s time to start executing a different plan instead of trying to jump from one media ship to the next.

What is this new plan? For arguments sake I am going to focus on college football. Several top notch college football reporters were laid off recently including ESPN’s Brett McMurphy and Fox Sports Stewart Mandel. Both have over 100k twitter followers, have great contacts in the sport, written books and are some of the go to people when it comes to breaking news and analysis in the sport. People like this need to come together and form their own sports centric wire service.

Mandel recently became the Editor-In-Chief of College Football for TheAtheletic.com which is a new website based on a yearly subscription model. McMurphy and others should take a similar approach except in their case build a web site that acts, in part, as a college football wire service. Be those boots on the ground reporter that takes advantage of all their contacts and years of experience. They can then sell these to outlets that have cut back that kind of reporting and maybe even have pieces commissioned by these former employers. Outlets like ESPN, Bleacher Report, and even places like Yahoo Sports, the New York Times and others.

This is not game recaps but something deeper. An angle on a player, coach, situation, etc. Because in the not too distant future, there should be an artificial intelligence able to create game recaps for a reasonable price that they can capitalize on.

Let’s be clear, this is a hard core hustle move but it’s a hustle that they can do. It’s a process that capitalizes on their years of experience, contacts and access that they have spent a career building. I understand that this is not comforting news to the older, married, lifers of the industry. But it’s reality. They have the toolset but that toolset is not desired by their former employers. Of so those employers think.

22 It

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 6.25.2017


The Canadian Football League (CFL) kicked off its 2017 season with a game between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Montreal Alouettes this past Thursday. Unless you are a football fanatic like myself or a Canadian with a vested interest in the two teams on the field, you probably didn’t ever know the game was going on. My hope is that someone at the NFL office or at one of the NFL TV partners was watching so that they could be reminded about an angle that they are missing during their broadcasts. The wide angle or as they call it in America, the ’22’ angle.

Roughriders at Al’s CFL 2017 Opener.

For the uninitiated, the CFL has 3 downs, 12 men aside and unlimited motion. Which means that at least three of the receivers get a head start on their routes before the ball is ever snapped. This requires the TV cameramen to get a wider shot of the field because you don’t know where these guys are going. It’s not a genuine ’22’ angle but you have a better view of what the receivers are doing and how the defense is lined up to defend them.

Why would the NFL or college football widen out the camera shot and show more of the field? Well it could be a source of revenue. Most of us, believe it or not, don’t care about the close up of Tom Brady or the coach on the sideline. We care about how the formation and who is on the field.

The down side is that you may reveal a bunch of empty seats at the stadium caused in no small part by a teams performance and high ticket prices. The upside is that nerdy football fans like myself would pay a fee to get just this angle.

ESPN Megacast during the 2014 National Championship game

The reason why a portion of us would pay for this is that we want to see for ourselves how the defense is lining up, who is coming in and out of the game and have a visual representation of where our team is on the field which let’s guess what our team should or should not do. We don’t want an analyst telling us after the fact or being burden by replays when a team goes without a huddle and we miss the beginning of the next play.

Eventually, having graphics overlay that one could turn on and off would be nice as well. I don’t mean your stats of total yards, etc but a marker on a player so that while viewing the ’22’ angle, a mark or flag can pop up over a player as they come on and off the field which is turned on and off automatically by when they cross the sidelines into the field of play.

While there is a lot of talk about how to improve the in-game experience for fans (none of this talk includes lowering ticket prices or beer mind you), very little is talked about improving the home viewing experience. These are two things could improve the viewing experience immediately. While the graphics overlay may take some doing, it’s hard to believe that having a camera zoom out would be much of a technological feat. Extra costs, I think I pointed out earlier that there are plenty of us who would give you money for this.

Some Solid Picks In The 2017 NFL Draft

By Brad Hubbard  | @bradhubbard | 5.1.2017

Another NFL draft has come and gone with it it’s usual predictions and interesting predicaments. While no one can predict the future, NFL teams and television analysts sure like to think they can. There are always there share of booms and busts and usually no remembers how wrong the scouts, general managers and TV analysts were. He is my take on some of the steals and or solid picks in the 2017 draft.

You probably weren’t around for pick #206 but it was solid. The LA Rams selected Virginia Tech fullback Sam Rogers. First, fullbacks are a dying breed in football which makes them all the more valuable but more importantly this guy was a walk-on at Virginia Tech and earned a scholarship after just one week of practice. One week! He contributed all four years so that should tell you something about his character and work ethic. While he may never be an NFL star, the Rams sure aren’t going to have to worry about desire to play.

Zach Cunningham played in the SEC. Why didn’t you hear about him that much? Because that SEC school was Vanderbilt. Cunningham, in my opinion, was one of the best inside linebackers in the draft if not the best. He single handedly beat lead Vandy to an upset win over Georgia in Athens after stuffing Georgia’s top running back on a 4th and short. That was just one of his 125 tackles on the season which led the SEC.

A guy who didn’t get drafted but will probably make the Carolina Panthers due to his hard nosed style is former Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware. He’s not big enough or fast enough but like Cunningham, he just makes plays. Not to mention that he does his homework and can sniff out plays before they happen. This was evident in the National Championship game against Alabama.

Some wide receivers to watch include Cal’s Chad Hansen and North Carolina’s Ryan Switzer. Neither will impress you with their size or speed but both just have a knack for making the tough catches and finding the endzone.

Running backs, how about the three out of the Mountain West. First, Donnel Pumphrey from San Diego State who was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. While his size put some teams off, he is also the FBS All Time Leading Rusher with 6,405 yards to his name.

Pumphrey wasn’t the only Mountain West back taken. Wyoming’s Brian Hill and Boise State’s Jeremy McNichols both came off the board in the fifth round. Hill is Wyoming’s all time leading rusher (a feat he accomplished in less than three full seasons) and McNichols scored 26 touchdowns in 2015 (20 rushing and 4 receiving) not to mention the 138 yards a game he averaged on the ground last year.

While NFL teams can talk themselves into anything (see the Chicago Bears and the #2 pick in the draft), they eventually do the right thing. Forget the combine numbers and the all that jazz and go back and look at the players tape. You’ll see that the eight guys mentioned here stood out week in and week out. I’ll roll the dice with these guys every week.

The Sunday – From Scary To Celebration

Compiled by Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 4.16.2017

The Scary

We live in a world with scary moments. Borussia Dortmund had an explosions near their bus that put one player in the hospital. It happened on the way to their Champions League match against Monaco on Tuesday.

In a moment that made SF Giants fans and the MLB brass gasp in horror was when Giants catcher Buster Posey took a 94 mph fastball to the head. He’s on the concussion DL and will hopefully be back behind the plate soon.

The Good

Despite bombs and getting hit in the head with a 90+ mph fastball, there is some good in the world and it was reflected in two different spring games on Saturday. First at Ohio State.

And then at Nebraska.

 

 

Why We Love Baseball

Cat Climbs A Wall.

Snarfing the Phanatics wheels.

 

WOW

 

Legend

UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson cemented his place in the record books as he tied Anderson Silva for the most title defenses in a row with 10. He is a bad man and the nicest guy you’ll ever want to meet.