Getting Authenticated

I spent a good part of the weekend watching the Olympics (can I use that word without IOC permission?). Authentication FailNBC is wall to wall with them across all of their networks and it’s great. It’s truly the smorgasbord of sports – a grand buffet with a little something for everyone. Just in case you’re still hungry, NBC is also streaming everything to anyone who can prove they have a cable TV subscription. Seems fair – why have to pay for the same content a second time?

As an aside, that availability of this streaming has me confused about why people are complaining via social media about NBC’s TV coverage – what they choose to air  on which networks, etc.  You can be your own producer, and if you’re tech savvy enough to complain in the Twittersphere about it you’re probably savvy enough to figure out how to hook a computer up to a TV screen to watch the streaming as if it was TV.

I tried to get myself authenticated to do exactly that and found out that the weak link in the chain is actually the cable operator.  Well, specifically MY cable operator.  Every time I went through the process, which involves going to the site and entering your cable user ID and password via your own provider’s site, I got a weird server message.  Not an error message as if I had the wrong information – a message you see in the graphic that’s indecipherable.  I finally emailed Cablevision support.  To their credit, they emailed me back within the hour that I was now authorized.  I wasn’t – same message when I went to sign in.  I used an online chat link they sent me to try to resolve it.  The very nice person (named Keith, coincidentally) let me know after a few minutes that he was a TV support guy and I needed to chat with the Internet guy.  Start a new chat.  Kevin (the new rep) asked if I had Cablevision’s internet service, which I don’t.  I reminded him that as long as I had TV I was supposed to be able to watch the streams.  He checked (5 minutes) and discovered I was right.  The issue turned out to be Chrome on a Mac – I was authorized instantly on a PC using Firefox.  Once I installed Flash into Safari, it worked on my Mac as well.  Strangely, it now works on Chrome too.

I suspect we’ll see a lot more of this as the pipe we use to access content becomes less important than the content itself.  I’m hoping the bumps will vanish and that rather than a great product such as this surfacing once every four years, we can use it every day.  What about you?  Have you tried the streaming?  What do you think?  Any issues getting it to work?

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Filed under sports business, Thinking Aloud

3 responses to “Getting Authenticated

  1. As one of those people occasionally given to complaining in the Twitterverse about NBC’s approach – I have a few thoughts.

    One, as much as I hate that NBC won’t show swimming finals live on a weekend afternoon, I understand they paid a zillion dollars for the rights and can program as they see fit.

    Two, I wouldn’t complain if the streaming worked better. I tried to watch both Phelps/Lochte swimming finals live over the weekend, and had issues both times. I had no problems authenticating my Directv account even though I have Comcast internet, and once I authenticated on Firefox on my Mac, both Chrome and Safari worked without further need to authenticate. The issues were with the streams themselves. Lots of stuttering/freezing. In the 4×100 the stream froze and dropped out for close to a minute during the final lap. Availbility of live links are also slow to pop up, and in a couple instances it took several minutes for a stream that I had selected to start. When you’re trying to watch a 5-minute event, this is a big problem.

    Three, NBC deserves much credit for showing everything online. But why show us pool feeds, often with no announcers, for events like Team USA basketball that are also being shown on live TV? Looks like they are trying to preserve the optimal experience for TV viewers but this seems short-sighted and disingenuous. If I’m choosing to watch on my iPhone, it’s because I can’t get to my HD set. Not because I prefer the iPhone.

    • Good points, Neil. Having worked on the Olympics when I was at both ABC and CBS I can tell you that a lot of what you see on TV is actually the “clean” world feed with broadcaster graphics. It’s really what’s available most of the time and I think NBC isn’t downgrading the streaming experience – they’re just providing what they have without having to produce (adding announcers, graphics) a lot of content live that they’ll probably never use on air.

      Not sure where the issue lies in the feed. You and I both know that delay could be at any of several points along the way – your ISP, the CDN, etc. Part of the price we pay, I guess, for being in the early years of a new thing. Beats the alternative of nothing being available though!

      • Understood there’s no way NBC can produce their own feeds for every event. And the depth of what’s available online is incredible. My complaint was that if I’m watching Team USA hoops online, I know there are NBC announcers calling that game for NBCSN. Why not include the announcers in the online version?

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