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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 patrickklepek
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.

Staff
Edited by Shadow28

Interesting...

Posted by thornie_delete

It was pretty shitty, but they are giving everyone a credit for this week, and like you mentioned it worked really well for all of the 4PM games. Me and my buddies were watching the game on a pirated stream on this tiny Macbook Air while the gf's and wives looked at us like the fools we are.

Posted by KuribosShoe

I love that you filed this under Jerry Rice and Nitus' Dog Football. Also, I think it's pretty great that people who don't have direct tv have a way to access sunday ticket, even though it is overpriced. And, well, problems with a PS3 service? I can't remember a single one that didn't launch with some weird flaws.

Posted by skrutop

That really, really sucks. Sony and DirecTV pointing the finger at each other doesn't inspire much confidence either, though I would probably give the stink eye to Sony for not being ready to handle the service. Fortunately a lot of the Steelers games are shown in Philly, so I don't have to spend every Sunday at the bar. The times that I do have to go feel like a nice change-of-pace. If I were somewhere else, though, I'd really want to rely on watching the Steelers via PSN or 360.

Posted by 617_jbug

people said that the service did get better for the afternoon games so i hope they fixed whatever the problem was.

Posted by Super_Sonic_Awesome

I had the same problem with my Sunday Ticket To Go service. Instead of a PS3, I'm supposed to be able to watch games on my PC. Needless to say, the service was down all day long. Quite a few angry people on Direct TV's forums.

Posted by LameImpala

Filed under Jerry Rice and Nitus' Dog Football. Excellent.

Posted by MisterMouse

Well at least they are giving you a voucher... at least it is something. But that shouldn't have happened on the first sunday of the NFL season, that is the day people are looking for. You fix problems before that day. But hey I guess issues come up.

Posted by mosespippy

You could always find a pirate stream. It's what I do for CFL since my landlord won't spring for a sports package on the satellite.

Posted by MeatSim

They need to get there shit together sooner.

Posted by Ozone

Similar streaming issues happened Week 1 last year on Sunday Ticket To-Go, as well as yesterday (the issues weren't PSN-exclusive). They really need to figure this shit out beforehand, because it leads to a lot of pissed off people getting a terrible first impression of their service.

Posted by GleasonRyan

I helped Patrick and Kate watch the bears game. It feels good to know i help fellow bears fans. I just noticed now that NFL offers streaming of all Regular and Post season games for 60$ but its on the computer. Thats fine for me and i kinda want to pull the trigger but cant do it D:

Posted by crusen

Sure a PSN voucher isn't "money in your pocket" but since they're taking $85 per month for it, if you leave it on your account, it will go towards mitigating the cost of Sunday Ticket. Pretty crappy overall, but at least that makes some sense.

Posted by jimjimman

This is a DirecTV issue. The streaming service barely works no matter what platform. They said they would fix it after last season....didn't happen.

Posted by BoneChompski

I'm curious if the definition and frame rate are adequate for a sports event? Football should be easier but trying to watch a hockey game on streaming is very underwhelming. Everyone is moving so fast that they blur and the puck becomes invisible at times due to frame rate.

Posted by vegoku

i love how this article is is filed under "Jerry Rice and Nitus' Dog Football"

On a real note, I have this service through DirecTV (not through PS3) and whenever you would tune into the HD channels on a non-DVR box, the satellite box would freeze. That was the case for the 1st half of the 1pm games. Terrible. They are crediting my bill because of the issue, but the amount wasn't known when I had called customer service. Annoying, but at least its fixed....for now.

Posted by endaround

Goddamn! Now we'll have to endure another whiny 300 words about NFL Sunday Ticket from Gregg Easterbrook.

Posted by RockinKemosabe

DirecTV should never cross angry football fans.

Posted by nukethewhalesagain

Isn't an actual DirectTV subscription cheaper than that?

Posted by Geown87

You are being punished for being a Bears fan, and rightfully so.

Also, I am offended by the last picture on this post, please remove it.

Posted by ericdrum

Ouch. DirectTV screwed the pooch bad here. A $25 PSN voucher is not going to cut it.

p.s. Urlacher will not have the career that Aaron Rodgers will have. When they both retire, find me and I'll tell you that "I told ya so."

p.p.s Jay Cutler sucks.

Edited by n8

Doesn't surprise me. Anyone else have problems trying to watch the '11 EVO2k stream via PS Home? It was pure, wide-open ass. And, as some who'd never even installed PS Home, it took 30 mins to get everything updated before I could even see how shyte it was. Once I got it up and running I gave it about 5 mins and went back to my laptop. That was infuriating...and it was free. Couldn't imagine going through something similar after dropping $350 :-s

Posted by MEATBALL

Sounds rough. Hopefully it'll be the only major hiccup, you'd expect more considering the amount of money you're paying.

Posted by milkohol

As a Bears fan, I approve of this post and hope they have their shit together next week. And god help them if they mess up Bears-Packers week 3.

Posted by NickyDubz

being from south bend the bears are my second fav nfl team behind The steelers....so i commend you patrick i really do

Posted by patrickklepek

@ericdrum said:

Ouch. DirectTV screwed the pooch bad here. A $25 PSN voucher is not going to cut it.

p.s. Urlacher will not have the career that Aaron Rodgers will have. When they both retire, find me and I'll tell you that "I told ya so."

p.p.s Jay Cutler sucks.

That doesn't even make any sense!

Staff
Posted by uniform

I was angry at myself for not ordering Sunday Ticket prior to week one. This news makes me feel better.

Posted by YOUNGLINK

HAHA, such a rip off.

Posted by ajamafalous

$340 seems steep as hell.

Posted by Blubba
Edited by Sparky_Buzzsaw

All of this is proof that football is evil and that The Running Man is the inevitable answer to all our televised gaming prayers.

Moderator
Edited by ericdrum

@patrickklepek:

"Well, allow me to retort":

Point #1: People will remember Urlacher as an oft injured, overrated LB. Aaron Rodgers will be remembered as a multi-superbowl MVP with a deadly arm.

Point #2: Jay Cutler sucks bad. Really bad. He has a poor attitude and doesn't know how to handle adversity on the football field.

And that picture is highly offensive. Please replace it with gay sex. Maybe something involving Cutler if you are so inclined.

Posted by vaportra1l

Oh well, guess I'll stick with NFL Redzone :P

Posted by Deathpooky

It still amazes me how comparatively awful and backwards the NFL out of market and streaming services are compared to ESPN's online offerings or to MLB various apps and services.

Compare this to college football, where ESPN3 has tons of different games at any period of time Saturday - some exclusive to the Internet, some games that would be broadcast regionally only in days past, and others which are also available on ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU - allowing you to keep track of games on your computer while watching a game on the big screen. AND they have a much improved Xbox app allowing you to watch (and rewatch) all the games that are available online.

Combine this with the fact that college football games broadcast on non-ESPN affiliated networks are carried by most cable carriers (CSN, FSN, MASN, Vs, etc.), and you have access to literally dozens of games during any Saturday, and can easily watch any game that turns out to be exciting or that you might have interest in. When 8 different games are on, it's usually pretty easy to find something exciting to watch. The only thing I can complain about is my cable company hasn't picked up the Big Ten Network yet.

It just amazes me that the NFL - the biggest sport in the US and the one that fans are most clamoring to have access to all the games - doesn't do something better. Watching football on Sunday is downright annoying, since I know half the time I'll miss the good games out there and only see highlights. And I'm not about to spend $350 for the privilege of watching out of market games.

Posted by Makoto_Mizuhara_Sakamoto
@Geown87: As I am offended by you, good Sir Asshole. You do NOT diss on a Bears fan when they win a game. Besides, since it sounds like you're a cheese-head through and through, I suggest you shut the hell up and let it be before I REALLY start trash-talking you.
Posted by randomfella21

@Geown87 said:

You are being punished for being a Bears fan, and rightfully so.

Also, I am offended by the last picture on this post, please remove it.

Aaaaaaaaaaawww I'm sure he didn't mean to hurt your feelings.

Posted by Phyreball

Yeah it was pretty bad debut.  Huge issues with yesterday.  I hope they get it working better, because its a great service to have for a football fan.

Posted by downtime58

@mosespippy: Jea! Giving the CFL some love!

Posted by roninhack

NFL Sunday Ticket has had an online portion for a few years now. When I still paid for it I remember having my laptop, netbook and the TV running 3 different games at once.(changing as soon as one hit a commercial gets time consuming) Its really surprising that it didn't work at first.

But the really annoying part is that DirecTV is willing to throw Sony under the bus as to why its not working.

@ericdrum

Oft injured? He missed one season and a half over the 12 years he has been in the league. And when he joined the Bears he completely changed how our Defensive stance worked as a whole.

Cutler works fine with a steady offensive line which is something we do miss. But Both Aaron Rodgers and Urlacher are future members of the Hall of Fame.

Posted by Cataphract1014

The web streaming wasn't working for me on my PC yesterday. I was able to have several Starcraft 2 streams in 1080p open at once, but nothing played on Sunday Ticket with that as the only thing on my PC open. When it did manage to play, it was like watching in 240p or lower, but only for 10 second chunks.

Posted by Super_Sonic_Awesome

@Geown87: Offended or not, Aaron Rogers is your quarterback. Life is good.

Posted by captroy

@ericdrum: Umm - did you actually watch or read about the game yesterday? Urlacher is overrated and has had an injury or two? Once again, did you see him play yesterday? I'm not the world's biggest Cutler fan, but it's hard to be much good when you end up on your back 5 times a game.

At last count, Aaron Rodgers has won as many Super Bowls as Trent Dilfer and Brett Favre. I'm not sure he's Joe Montana or John Elway yet. Just sayin'.

Bear Dignity! :)

Posted by Doctorchimp

@patrickklepek: You didn't really cover it in the article, but can you get Sunday Ticket on the PS3 without Direc-TV?

I was about to get Direc-TV for the free sunday ticket, but FiOS wanted to do something weird with my internet billing if I was going to opt-out of my cable/internet bundle and they have really good internet...

Posted by RazielCuts

By the headline I was fo' sure thinking this was going to be an Alex article. 

Posted by steelknight2000

I'm so glad I hate sports.

Posted by Th35nugg13s

I was having troubles with Sunday Ticket on the HD DirecTV boxes. Was trying to watch the Colts/Texans game and both of the HD boxes in the house would crash and restart after going to any of the Sunday Ticket channels. Glad that it was just the preview and I didn't shell out any cash for it.

Edited by Geown87

@Makoto_Mizuhara_Sakamoto: I'm just gunna leave this here...

Posted by Chuck_

Great story, Patrick. I look forward to updates from both Direct TV and Sony about this.

Using MLB.TV through the PS3 has been fantastic with almost no issues so I wonder who's fault this NFL thing really is.

Posted by smitty86

Bear down Chicago Bears

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