As a fan of one of “the other 14” clubs in the Premier League (the ones outside of The Big 6), NBC Sports Gold’s Premier League Pass service is a must-have by necessity if you want to watch every game that your club plays during the 2017/18 season. In all, the estimate is that more than 35% of many team’s games will be viewable only through Premier League Pass this season. Your mileage may vary.
After taking Premier League Pass for a test drive this past weekend, here are my first impressions.
Signing up for NBC Sports Gold was a cinch. The cost is $49.99 per season. Just as I’ve written before, the price isn’t the issue. The fact that NBC Sports has delivered an in-between solution that doesn’t satisfy the cord cutters nor the TV subscribers is the problem, but that’s another story for another post.
The user experience
The best word to describe the Premier League Pass service so far is clunky.
After signing up for Premier League Pass on my laptop, the first place I went to was NBCSportsGold.com. But even though I had already signed up and paid, I still got prompted on that page (and continue to do so) to buy a Premier League Pass.
Instead, I had to click the yellow ‘Watch now’ button, which took me to nbcsports.com/gold. For future reference in order to avoid making the same mistake I made, just bookmark nbcsports.com/gold not NBCSportsGold.com to access your paid content.
When I did try to watch a live program (other than a game) for the first time, I was asked to log in to NBC Sports Gold once again (probably because the content was hosted on the stream.nbcsports.com server) even though I was already logged into the NBCSportsGold.com website. You would think that NBC Sports would have more of a seamless experience built for their paying customers.
Also when I tried to watch Premier League News, the stream had no audio at all. When the audio did pick up more than five minutes later, the audio and video were completely out of sync. Minutes later, the audio/video sync issue was corrected during the live program (which could have been a mistake by Premier League Productions, not NBC Sports). Still, however, it wasn’t a good first impression despite the Premier League News show itself being very informative.
At the conclusion of the live Premier League News program I watched on Monday, the stream starting showing the opening seconds of the Big Match Preview program hosted by Mark Pougatch where he began to discuss the Spurs-Chelsea match this weekend. Seconds later, and NBC Sports unfortunately stopped the stream. And as far as I know, there are no plans to offer Big Match Preview to Premier League Pass subscribers. More frustration.
Also, while the upcoming schedule of content on Premier League Pass is long and impressive, it’s not as easy to find the shows that have already aired. You can go to the full-event replays section, but you have to scroll past content for track and field, cycling and rugby to find the soccer content. Yes, you can use the drop-down navigation to select Premier League to filter out the other sports, but it’s another step. In addition to that, having a tab displayed on the website that says “Relive TDF’17” (for Tour de France) is overkill. Again, I didn’t subscribe to the cycling pass and I have zero interest in it, so why is it displayed on the main navigation when NBC Sports knows I’m not a subscriber to that service?