Just as I was really excited about the launch of FOX Soccer’s Premier League TV coverage this summer, I ended up being severely disappointed. The same can be said — if not worse — about the relaunch of FOXSoccer.tv, FOX’s broadband channel which promises “Watch Live Soccer Anytime, Anywhere.”
Maybe the tagline should be reworded to “Watch Live Soccer Sometimes, Not All The Time”?
First, the back story. I learned about the forthcoming relaunch of FOXSoccer.tv earlier this year and was genuinely excited. The features and functionality discussed sounded like a dream come true especially for this soccer fan who has had to endure companies like ITVN (whose main business was peddling porn) and the highs and lows of Setanta’s broadband product, Setanta-i, which morphed into the improved FOXSoccer.tv in early 2010.
A lot has changed since then. In the summer of 2010, FOXSoccer.tv switched their streaming partner from RayV to Perform. There were high hopes for improved performance and reliability from Perform, especially after the embarrassing mistakes that RayV/FOXSoccer.tv accomplished during the 2009-10 season such as missing the first half of a game between Barcelona versus Arsenal and the catalog of errors that happened during a Manchester United against Liverpool game, to name just a couple.
However despite the optimism for the 2010-11 season, including the addition of an iPhone app, there were still isolated issues throughout the season with the service not working. So, when I heard about the new features to be launched in August 2011 as well as an iPad app, I was very excited. After finding out about the price increase from $14.99 to $19.99 per month, I questioned whether the price increase would be worth it. As I said then, “Whether the $19.99 per month fee will be worth it will be dependent on how successful the launch is in August as well as how reliable the service is for the entire season.” Reliability was key.
After reviewing the FOXSoccer.tv experience during the opening weekend of the 2011-12 Premier League season, I was over the moon. The features and functionality were exceptional. The video quality was superb. And, most importantly, there were no technical issues.
Sadly, though, those initial positive feelings were dashed this past weekend when FOXSoccer.tv encountered issues both on Saturday and Sunday.
The outages that FOXSoccer.tv customers experienced on Saturday and Sunday weren’t as bad as what we’ve had to endure in the past, but I’m so sick of issues cropping up over and over again. On Saturday, I was at my daughter’s AYSO game, so I wasn’t able to watch the Premier League games live on FOXSoccer.tv, but when I returned home, I was really disappointed to read about all of the issues that my readers were having with getting FOXSoccer.tv to work. The second half of the Swansea against Wigan game hadn’t finished yet, and I didn’t know the score, so I tried to log on to FOXSoccer.tv so I could watch the game from the beginning. That’s when I began experiencing the issues that other FOXSoccer.tv customers had. First, after entering my username and password, the page would hang and wouldn’t authenticate my login details. After trying this three to four times, it finally let me in. When I tried selecting the Swansea against Wigan game, nothing happened. After refreshing the page and trying again, this is the error message that was displayed on-screen:
Thankfully, I was able to finally get the game to load when I went to the FOXSoccer.tv homepage and clicked the ‘Watch Live’ button. The rest of the experience that day was flawless.
Then on Sunday, after looking forward to watching Norwich’s first home game of the season against Stoke City, I successfully logged in to FOXSoccer.tv. But I was extremely disappointed when I tried to watch the game and all I got was a spinning black wheel of death. I tried reloading the page several more times, but was unable to get the game to play. I tried the iPad app, which gave me a network connection error message and then crashed, so I then resorted to the iPhone app. And heaven behold, the game worked there albeit it on a device that measures 3 inches by 4 inches in the palm of my hand.
I’ve come to a point where my patience has run out with FOXSoccer.tv. I’ve thrown in the towel and have given up hope of them perfecting their service. One of the reasons why I was so incensed this past weekend was because these issues should never have happened. Saturday’s 10am ET kick-off only had two live Premier League games on FOXSoccer.tv — Swansea against Wigan, and Aston Villa against Blackburn. These are hardly two games that will cause servers to crash with massive amounts of traffic hitting the site. Meanwhile, on Sunday, I’ve lost count of how many times there seems to be issues with getting the early kick-off to work on FOXSoccer.tv
Simply said, I give up. I’m sick and tired of FOXSoccer.tv not being reliable. I won’t be championing their cause despite believing in what they’re trying to do, which is to bring the Premier League to your laptop, smart phone and tablet devices. While I believe in the theory of what they’re trying to accomplish, I’m fed up with the service. Maybe they’re trying as hard as they can to get it to work, but maybe their best isn’t good enough. At this point, I have to put it down to incompetence.
If these were isolated incidences, it would be one thing. But we, as FOXSoccer.tv customers, have been experiencing a whole host of problems for more than 12 months now. Enough is enough, and I’m throwing in the FOXSoccer.tv towel. I’m no longer going to be an affiliate partner of theirs. I won’t recommend the service any longer, and I’ll be removing the FOXSoccer.tv banner ads that promote their service.
FOXSoccer.tv has turned from a must-have into a necessary evil. Despite all of the issues that the site has been experiencing for more than 17 months, the fact is that if you want to be able to watch all of the Premier League games, FOXSoccer.tv is a necessity in addition to FOX Soccer and ESPN2/ESPN3.com. Based on what I’ve seen so far during the free trial, I would not recommend the service due to technical and reliability issues. And I definitely do not agree with the price increase given the poor quality of service that customers receive. Having said that, if you’re willing to be extremely patient, FOXSoccer.tv is a necessity if you want to ensure that you’ll be able to watch all of the live games featuring your favorite club.
Hopefully FOXSoccer.tv will do something to appease their customers — whether it’s extending the free trial to convince soccer fans that the service is reliable. Or offering customers a refund for the interruptions in service.
FOX Soccer has its customer between a rock and a hard place. Other than FOXSoccer.tv (and a few ESPN3.com games), there are no other legal alternatives out there to watch Premier League games online in the United States, so we have to persevere and hope that FOXSoccer.tv does what it is necessary to improve their service. But if the last 17 months are any barometer, I don’t have much faith that they’ll get it right, which is a crying shame because they’ve obviously poured a ton of money, time and energy into making it a must-have service. Unfortunately, technology has let them down again.