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Streaming TV Delays a Growing Headache for Sports Fans

Jeff Kotuby

Picture this: you’re in the Kansas City metro area, watching last Sunday’s thrilling Divisional Round matchup against the Bills. Josh Allen just connected with Gabriel Davis for what seems like their 10th TD of the night and you think your team is absolutely done for. You suddenly hear a roar from the viewing party across the street and your group chat blows up. You look up at your screen and…the kick returner is letting the ensuing kickoff go into the endzone. It’s only once your feed catches up that you see what all the fuss was about.

It’s not fun being the sports fan on the streaming delay and, according to research conducted by Phenix, folks are just plain tired of the massive delays brought on by streaming live sporting events.

When shown a video that depicts delays at various intervals compared to the live feed at the stadium, US sports viewers were frustrated with the delays in the stream while watching the game.

Of those surveyed, 16 percent said the video was the most frustrating 80 seconds of their life and would definitely not continue watching, and 21 percent were frustrated and would likely not continue watching.

Overall, 72 percent were frustrated with how slow the delay was, and of those 72 percent that were frustrated, 38 percent would turn the game off completely because of the delay/they were so frustrated.

Imagine being one of those people who turned off Chiefs/Bills because of streaming frustration?

Delays are an issue, though, especially as live TV streaming services look to engage in time-sensitive aspects of modern sports viewership like betting. In that case, a viewer in the stadium or watching OTA could have an unfair advantage over those watching with a streaming-induced delay. FuboTV CEO David Gandler, whose company has fully embraced sports betting as an integral part of its business model says its sportsbook will have failsafes in place to prevent fans watching elsewhere from having an advantage.

“The actual syncing of the physical bet is tied to real-time,” Gandler said in a recent interview. “What the system may not do is they may not show you something where you won’t have time to bet. For example, it won’t allow you to bet on every single serve (in a tennis match) and allow you to bet on every other serve. There are many ways that we can mitigate [disadvantages caused by delays]…This is not a way to do robo-betting where people need to have the ability to put all their bets in, that’s not what we’re here to do. We’ll let [others] keep that market, our job is a little bit different.”

So what’s a streaming company to do? Obviously, they’ll need to figure out how to mitigate delays on their broadcasts and there’s a great opportunity coming up for them to start figuring that out — Super Bowl LVI. Between YouTube TV, fuboTV, DIRECTV STREAM, Hulu Live TV, Peacock, the NFL App, and the Yahoo Sports app, someone has to figure out how to trim time off of the streaming delays and bring their broadcasts out of the proverbial Stone Age into the 2020s.

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