My friend, Ira, who has way too much time on his hands, was watching Michael Phelps compete in a heat Monday afternoon on his cell phone, a Samsung Galaxy S2. As the race was about 10 yards from the finish, the screen went blank. A message then appeared: “Exit app. Start over.”
Ira was ticked off. “It could have at least let me watch the end of the race,” he said.
Ira, though, has a computer background. He’s not surprised.
Clearly, the technology isn’t there yet to support such a massive on-line extravaganza at NBCOlympics.com. Unlike television, there still are too many variables when it comes to Internet providers, mobile devices, individual computers, etc. It all adds up to plenty of room for error.
My computer seized up on me Sunday morning. I never got to watch the end of that badminton match. By the way, I’m not kidding: Check out the badminton. Some amazing points. Not like you played in your backyard.
The New York Times’ Richard Sandomir did a piece on the streaming problems. He writes:
(People) want what they want when they want it — and they don’t want the video to freeze, skip, pixelate or buffer excessively. Some who wanted to watch Phelps race Ryan Lochte live (many hours before they raced, on delay, on NBC) were disappointed when the live streams seized up as if hexed by an NBC rival.
Twitter has lit up with similar complaints — some satisfied customers have tweeted, too — from fans who don’t want to hear that the trouble might be on their end: their broadband service’s bandwidth; the age of their computers and mobile devices; thunderstorms; the number of people in an apartment building also streaming; or interference in the ionosphere from Ryan Seacrest’s Freedom Tower-size pompadour.
And he has this quote from NBC’s Greg Hughes:
We’re enjoying tremendous success with our digital offerings. And yes, there have been some difficulties. Some on our end; some on the users’ end. And we’re working around the clock to give everyone a good digital experience. A small number of complaints, relative to the huge number of users, is a very positive early sign.
Memo to Greg: It’s is 4:29 Central Monday, and NBCOlympic.com is freezing up on me for beach volleyball. By the way, my Internet provider is Comcast, which just happens to own NBC.
As I said, it’s not perfect.