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NFL Sunday Ticket's Sloppy, Frustrating Debut on PlayStation 3

The experience only underscored the problem of media partnerships and the confusing blame game.

This should have been what my TV looked like on Sunday morning. Instead, it was an error screen.

Let's get the opening arguments out of the way regarding NFL Sunday Ticket. Yep, it's $340. While technically it's $85 a month paid out over four months, you're tied to a contract, so it's still $340. If you're a football fan cheering for an out-of-state team, there's no way to watch all of the games. If you're a good team, maybe a handful will be broadcast during the day or featured in the primetime Sunday and Monday time slots. Maybe. Your alternative is heading to a bar that's showing everything.

That's me and the Chicago Bears. Walking to a bar most Sundays and racking up a food 'n drink tab with my fiancee will add up quick, well more than $85 per month. So while this whole thing is basically a racket, it's a racket I have to participate in one way or the other, so I'll happily go the route that allows me to pick up the necessary football materials at Costco.

When NFL Sunday Ticket works, it's brilliant, letting you quickly tab between different games.

I pulled the trigger on Saturday afternoon. Knowing Brian Urlacher would be on my TV the next morning felt damn good. There was no anxiety over getting a viewable seat next to the TV or bargaining with the people around you to get the TVs switched around. Beer, coffee, football, couch.

It all went downhill in the morning. Bears were scheduled to play the Falcons at 10:00 a.m. PST, with Sunday Ticket recommending turning on the feed about 15 minutes before game. The moment the application opens, however, it's clear things have gone wrong. An advertisement keeps looping, then freezing, then crashing. The stream tries to connect again--and fails. Switching over to any stream doesn't fix the issue. Wondering if it's just me, I turn to Twitter to see a shit storm brewing.

"Our team is aware of this issue and working to resolve as soon as possible," said DirecTV's customer service account. A variation on that statement had been posted dozens and dozens of time, with no ETA on a solution in sight.

First field goal comes up. Good as Gould! First Beardown! First quarter winds down. First half finishes. Second half starts. Fumbles happen. There are, of course, more touchdowns--even one by Urlacher! Stream still broken. And then it's game over.

Functional service didn't come online until the second set of games, but at that point, the primary reason I'd purchased NFL Sunday Ticket had disappeared. Further complicating matters, it wasn't clear who we (as in paying customers) should be directing questions to. The incident exposed the delicate dance platform holders must play when partnering with media companies where it holds little sway over the service and cannot do anything when stuff goes horribly wrong.

Putting this here because I can't imagine another time when I'd have an excuse to post this.

Brad Nicholson, who previously wrote in this very section of Giant Bomb, kept asking for help over Twitter, and was told by DirecTV that he should be talking to Sony, even though NFL Sunday Ticket is a DirecTV service.

"Brad, if you bought the service through PSN and are not a DIRECTV customer, please contact Sony cc: @PlayStation."

Anyone who purchased NFL Sunday Ticket through PlayStation Network are being offered a $25 PSN voucher. You're not getting your money back, but you have money to spend on Sony services! Sony told me today it expects that voucher to be in people's accounts "in the next day or so."

When I asked for comment about the incident itself, Sony pointed me towards DirecTV.

So far, DirecTV has not responded to my request for comment.

The service ended up working perfectly the rest of the day, giving me exactly what I'd paid for--but after the Bears game was over and won. As grumpy as the whole ordeal made me, I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. It's not like there are many options for me here. Hopefully, it was just a hiccup. If there's problems during Bears vs. Packers, there's hell to pay.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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Posted by MjHealy

$340? Christ, if the Bears go all the way to the final, how many games do they even play?

Posted by Boopie

well if you read the TOS they guarantee nothing except they are taking your money

Posted by lawfin06

Not entirely surprised it didn't launch flawlessly. Except it should have, considering how much prospective users are expected to front. My Red Zone through Comcast was choppy for all the morning games and some afternoon ones. I'm willing to bed there was giant pent up demand for some football.

Posted by itspizza

You bears fans are really pissed the Packers beat you and then went on to win the superbowl arn't you? Haters goin hate.