For the past four days, I was away in Chicago in business meetings. Normally this wouldn’t be so bad if the trip happened during the week. But as it happened on a weekend when I’m usually at home watching the Premier League matches on my trusty laptop or television, it messed up my typical routine and left me in the unusual predicament of trying to watch as many of the highlights in as short of amount of time as possible.
Luckily this past weekend coincided with the first time I was able to use the Fox Soccer iPhone app I purchased earlier this week. If there was ever a use case for someone testing this iPhone app, this was it.
Here’s how the experience went for me.
On Saturday morning, I had a break in-between meetings for approximately ten minutes. I decided to boot up the Fox Soccer app on my iPhone to see if I could watch one of the games live. But the app design is not as intuitive as it could be. It’s difficult to ascertain which games are being shown live at any moment. So I ended up going through the ‘Video’ section of each game one-by-one. The first game I selected was Arsenal against Birmingham. With the first half of the game still being played, I was both disappointed and impressed at the same time. I was disappointed because there was no live stream of the game available. But I was impressed that there already were three different highlights from the match that I could play that featured key moments in the game. I was able to see Nikola Zigic’s beautiful header that was poked into the corner of the goal. The video streamed perfectly over my 3G connection on my iPhone.
With only a few minutes to go before my break ended, I tried going through the rest of the games to see if I could find a live stream. But each of them only featured match highlights. I didn’t have time to hunt and peck through the app to see if there were other ways to watch the games via live streaming on the app. So I ended up closing the app and feeling a little cheated. I was under the assumption that all of the Premier League games (except those broadcast by ESPN in the US) would be available for streaming. Even despite that, I was glad to see that match highlights from Manchester United against West Brom were available on the app, just before it was closed.
On Sunday, I was looking forward to watching Everton against Liverpool on my iPhone but was resigned to the belief that I would only be able to watch it via match highlights on the Fox Soccer app. I had a mid-morning flight to catch at Chicago O’Hare International Report, so when I left my downtown hotel around 8am to catch a cab, my expectations of the Fox Soccer app wasn’t that high. I selected the app from my iPhone and then clicked the Everton against Liverpool game expecting to see a list of highlights to choose from. But I was stunned that the only option it gave me was to watch the game live. Finally, yes! I could watch the game via live streaming on my mobile phone.
As the cab left the hotel and sped down Washington Street, I was blown away by how crystal clear the picture was and that here I was in a moving taxi in Chicago watching a live game that was happening 3,789 miles away on Merseyside. It was for me a groundbreaking moment especially since I had lived in the States persevering with listening to spotty coverage on a shortwave radio in the mid 1980s. And here I was 25 years later watching a game in the palm of my hand.
As the cab driver hurtled towards O’Hare, the quality of the stream was exceptional. Now and again it started to blur slightly, but there was never any buffering and the picture quality quickly fixed itself. I took my iPhone through airport security and to my terminal, all the while watching the game unfold. There were a couple of instances during the second half of the match when I would see a warning message saying that it was experiencing a slow data connection issue, but I chalked that up to being in the terminal and my AT&T connection not being the greatest.
After watching the Everton versus Liverpool game, I was able to go through each of the Premier League games from the weekend and watch all of the goal highlights. In fact, the goal highlights are available a few minutes after they’re scored in real-time, so the app may serve as a useful tool for those of you who are at work or on the road, or don’t have time to watch the games.
I’m still feeling my way around the app to figure out which games are available for live streaming (it isn’t clear). One of the commenters on the site here said that the app only shows the live streaming of the games available on FoxSoccer.tv (both Premier League and Champions League), but I need to use it next weekend to find out for sure, or to get more information from Fox Soccer Channel.
While the app is not perfect, it is a revolutionary step forward. I’m already considering the ways I can incorporate the Fox Soccer app into my busy work life (and home life) to save time. I’ll still continue to watch some games, but this definitely replaces the need to rely so heavily on Match Of The Day or the English Premier League Review Show. With goal highlights available in minutes after they occur and some matches shown with live streaming options, I’m definitely going to get my money’s worth out of it.
The Fox Soccer app is available on iTunes for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad from $7.99/month.