It’s a new chapter for NFL fans as the Sunday Ticket service – after nearly 30 years with DirecTV – made its much-anticipated debut on YouTube and YouTube TV over the weekend. Sports fans in general tend to be notorious for their reluctance to embrace change, so there were naturally a lot of eyes on YouTube’s version of this beloved service, watching to see if it could carry the torch forward effectively. The verdict? A fantastic debut with some room for a few small improvements.
Zero Streaming Issues
The biggest win was the seamless streaming experience. With no buffering, no glitches, and an uninterrupted flow, YouTube ensured that fans could focus on the games and not the technology delivering them. I watched Sunday Ticket through the YouTube TV app on my Chromecast and on my phone while on the road and had zero issues, proving YouTube’s reliability when it comes to live streaming events on this scale. Even in some sketchy connectivity zones the stream held up just fine.
From what we can tell, there were no major issues on any front when it came to the actual streaming of game content over the weekend, and that’s a relief. It isn’t surprising I suppose that the company that basically pioneered online video streaming handled its first NFL weekend with aplomb, but I’m definitely relieved to see how well it all worked on Sunday for sure.
Multiview Options need a little work
Now, let’s move on to the things we’ve heard the most complaints about. YouTube introduced several multiview channels that featured four games, three games, and two games each. While I personally found this still provided a great way to keep track of multiple games, the multiview options weren’t available until 10 to 15 minutes before kickoff. That gave very little time to make a game-time decision in my opinion, and I’m sure there were many fans a bit frustrated by that.
This brings us to the elephant in the room: no custom multiview setups. Fans clearly want the ability to customize the games in their multiview setup and with the NFL having the bulk of games all on at the same time, I don’t really understand why YouTube isn’t allowing this. With the high price of Sunday Ticket, viewers should absolutely have control over this particular feature. The good news is YouTube has been pretty responsive to fan requests thus far, so there’s a chance this gets changed. Hopefully it happens sooner than later.
Despite these drawbacks, I’m extremely happy with the Week 1 performance of NFL Sunday Ticket on YouTube. If they can resolve the multiview issues, I really think Sunday Ticket on YouTube could be a perfect paid streaming service. They clearly have the scale to deliver the games without issue and the network to deliver it in compelling ways. Fix multiview, and you have an absolute gem, YouTube. Until then, however, you’ll have your naysayers.