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.

Advertisements

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. 

 

Blackmon 4 MVP

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 8.14.2017

Believe it or not, sometimes it’s hard to be noticed in the rocky mountain outpost of major league baseball. The Colorado Rockies are chasing down their post season appearance since 2009 and they are doing it behind a centerfielder having one of the best seasons in baseball.

Simply put, Rockies centerfielder Charlie Blackmon is having a career year.  Yeah you can always default to the  ‘he plays at altitude’ argument but in this case that argument doesn’t hold up. Away from Coors Field he is hitting .288 with 10 HR’s, 35 RBI’s, with 12 doubles and a .330 OBP.  Those are quality numbers for any leadoff hitter at any park.

In a nutshell, these are his National League stats through August 12th:

1st in runs: 105 | 1st in hits: 159 | 1st in triples: 13 | 2nd in batting average: .338 | 3rd in slugging: .618 | 6th in homeruns: 27 | 11th in OBP: 3.94 |15th in RBI: 74

While most people point to Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado for MVP and for valid reasons. Not only is Arenado one of the top 5 position players in all of baseball but he is also leading baseball in RBI’s and pretty much ranks in the top 10 across all the important offensive categories in the National League.

But let’s be honest, Arenado only has 100 + RBI’s because Blackmon is on base in front of him.

 

Blackmon has been a solid player for the Rockies for a few seasons but he was usually overshadowed by former shorstop Troy Tulowitzki and current right fielder Carlos Gonzalez not to mention Arenado. He overshadowed so much that a year ago the Washington Nationals made a run at acquiring the centerfielder. The Rockies didn’t pull the trigger and now that seems like one of the better decisions any franchise has made.

While there are several quality candidates for NL MVP none of them have gone as above and beyond as Blackmon has. From his hitting to his speed to his play in the vast outfield of Coors Field, Blackmon has proven himself to be MVP material.

The Sunday – Moving On

Compiled by Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 8.13.2017

We’ve had better Saturday’s in the world. Despite the return of Premier League

A Harper Down

Even if you are not a Washington Nationals fan, seeing one of the games best players go down with a possible season ending injury is just a punch to the gut.

With Bryce Harper out, the Nationals could be in a lot of trouble when it comes to the post season.

Hey OBJ! I Raise.

As the American sports media continues to fall over itself when it comes to the New York Giants Odell Beckham Jr’s catches, Yorkshire Vikings player Jack Leaning made what may be the most impressive catch in all of sports.

Fan For Life

This kid didn’t get the ball, but it’s a story he will have the rest of his life.

Oh So Pretty

 

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.

The Sunday – Continuing the Unbelievable

Compiled by Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 7.9.2017

Crash

The Tour de France is full of interest this year. If it’s not cyclists being kicked out, it’s horrific crashes that make you wonder how these guys do it. Ritchie Porte is out of the Tour with a fractured pelvis and clavicle. 

Goals

This was a world class goal by a world class player.

 

Not Good

Not sure what Hamilton’s Will Hill was thinking here but it didn’t end well for him. He was thrown out of the game.

 

 

‘All of Nothing’ Drives Home Ruthlessness of NFL

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 7.8.2017

The second season of Amazon’s ‘All of Nothing’ series starts off with Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher informing the team that he was fired.  From here the show takes you through the ins and outs of the Rams 2016 season and finishing off with the hiring of a new coach and the 2017 NFL Draft. It’s a long journey and one that NFL Films tells very well.

The Rams 2016 season was teed up pretty well for the producers of ‘All or Nothing’. You had the move from St. Louis, the trade to get quarterback Jared Goff with the #1 overall pick in the 2016 draft, young stars like running back Todd Gurley and defensive tackle Aaron Donald and a schedule that saw them log more miles than anyone during the 2016 season. Add in the unexpected firing of the head coach and you have enough material to fully flesh out 8 hour long episodes.

This series is not HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’. In fact ‘All or Nothing’ doesn’t even touch on training camp. It dives right into the season and does a pretty good job of avoiding the typical NFL game camera angles while it’s at it. There are solid shots from the sidelines and great sound from the coaches throughout the season. From their homes, to the meeting rooms to the sidelines.

One aspect of this show that was very interesting goes back to something that former Notre Dame head coach and ESPN analyst Lou Holtz once pointed out and that is when a coach is fired it’s not just him who is effected. It’s the assistants and their families too. ‘All or Nothing’ does a great job of driving that home. How the families deal with the never ending moves from city to city. For example, offensive coordinator Rob Boras ended up as the tight ends coach for the Buffalo Bills shortly after being let go by the Rams following the season. So in under a year he had moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles to Buffalo while his family was still in St. Louis. It gives you a great look at how much of grind an NFL season can be not just for the players but on the coaches.

This season of ‘All or Nothing’ is compelling and could be compelling for someone who isn’t the biggest football fan. It shows how difficult and ruthless this game can be on the players, the coaches and the families and how everything can change in an instant. It’s story telling at high level and worth checking out.

Tour de Drama

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 7.4.2017

During the final sprint in stage 4 of the Tour de France, world champion Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish were driving to the finish line when Cavendish went into the barrier and was run over by cyclists behind him after it appeared that Sagan nudged Cavendish causing him to fall. At least that is the way the Tour sees it and now both riders are out of the race but for different reasons.

First Cavendish. He took a hard line with no room for error and it didn’t work out. He has a fractured shoulder blade and a nasty cut on his hand. He is out of the race due to injury.

Sagan, the five time Green jersey winner, was initially relegated to 115th place among other penalties but then the Tour changed it’s mind and disqualified him from the race entirely. Sagan denied the claim that he elbowed/nudged/winged Cavendish into the barrier but the race organizers see it differently and have made their decision in the name or ‘rider safety’.

Social media is a buzz about this. While some see a clear elbow by Sagan others point out that Sagan does not need to give a rider behind him a clear path and that Cavendish took a very dangerous if not reckless line.

The bottom line is this, Sagan and Cavendish are out. Two popular cyclists out of cycling’s biggest event of the year. It also means that the race for the Green jersey is wide open. This will either make the 2017 edition of the Tour de France incredible interesting or it will forever have yet another asterisk next to the results.