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General Subscribers Miss First Half Of Barca v Arsenal

Since it’s relaunch on March 1, the track record for — Fox’s broadband product that features live and recorded games — has been frustratingly poor. First there were the problems that plagued the Manchester United against Liverpool match shown live on Sunday, March 20. And Tuesday, the website was down for the entire first half of Arsenal’s biggest game of the year, their second leg against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.

Soccer fans trying to access the website on Tuesday afternoon received a timed-out error message (see above screenshot). The site was down for approximately 50 minutes from 2:45pm to 3:35pm ET. When the site did return at 3:35pm ET, the first half of the Barcelona against Arsenal match was already over and viewers were greeted with the half-time broadcast. Viewers desperate to see the match online would have missed four goals including a spectacular first half hat trick by Lionel Messi.

For matches of this magnitude, whether it’s Man United against Liverpool or Barcelona versus Arsenal, it’s vital that the website is able to handle the surge in traffic and to deliver a quality experience for the subscriber.

In addition to the issues with massive matches that are shown live, there continues to be a problem with games that are available on demand where the audio and video are not synced. Watching a game from this past weekend on demand, I ended up turning off the volume because the audio commentary was ten seconds ahead of the video and it completely ruined my experience of watching the game online.

Looking ahead to’s schedule for the close of the season, the following games are ones where we hope will be equipped to handle the surge in traffic during the most crucial time of the season:

  • Sunday April 11: Tottenham Hotspur v Portsmouth, FA Cup semi-final, 11am ET
  • Wednesday, April 14: Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal, 3pm ET
  • Sunday, May 9: Final day of the Premier League season where the title race may come down to a photo-finish between Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal.

In the meantime, it’s probably no coincidence that Fox Sports Interactive has posted a job opening for a Broadband Product Manager who would work on the and website. What’s revealing in the job posting is that part of the job responsibilities is to “develop specs for product improvements such as picture in picture and live chats.” Both would be welcome additions to the experience.

What are your opinions about the technical issues that is encountering? Is your patience running thin, or is this to be expected due to a mid-season re-launch after Setanta USA went out of business? Post your feedback in the comments section below.

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  1. ash

    April 8, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    I gave waay all that is television and switched to online soccer this year. i have to say that I have mixed feelings about fSCtv. Pros: Love the lineup they have going, and the fact that if i ignore the media long enough i can watch the recordings; the interface ain’t half bad either.

    Cons: I’d love to see better streaming of the bigger games. The Man U Liverpool game was horrible to watch and luckily for me I caught the Barca V Arsenal game at the pub. I would’ve flipped a lid had i experienced what i’ve just read on here. WTF! These are the sort of things that you provide your customers refunds for.

    I’m heavily dependent on fsc tv for all my football action so i’ll probably go with them again next season, unless something better comes my way. So far though, i can’t say that i’m miserable – just balance the site loads better and i’ll be happy.

    For those that experience drastic buffering, try unhooking from your wireless router. I’v enoticed that my router does drop data packets as opposed to when directly hooking intot he cable modem.

  2. Dave C

    April 8, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I know this post is about but for all those without Cable/Satellite (who naturally are following this post), there is some good news about the World Cup this summer. Univision will be streaming all of the games for free. So if you’re stuck with getting internet from a cable company (that will not sign up for ESPN 360–time warner in my case) you do at least have the option to catch the games albeit with commentary in Spanish. I may still switch to DSL just to get access to ESPN360 since they have so much other soccer content but at least there will be an option this summer if I don’t.

  3. maw4bc

    April 7, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Don’t even get me started with this. I have contacted Fox MULTIPLE times the past few days and all I am receiving is “please give me your computer specs to make sure that your computer has the correct specifications”

    UNREAL! They send me specs of a computer from 1980’s and tell me that is the minimum specs. I sent them a responses that said “you can’t be serious right now? Forget about it and cancel my membership”.

    I am not going to sit and email them again, i have emailed them 5 times.

  4. steven wade

    April 7, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    i actually got a refund on my season subscription. apparently there is an issue with the service running on the latest mac operating system, snow leopard. it crashed my browser nearly every time. so i have gone back to watching the pirate streams, i’d prefer to have because as a west ham supporter some of our streams against smaller clubs are hard to come by (because i can’t use sopcast, etc.) but at least i can still manage to find most fixtures, even if they are in a language i don’t understand.

  5. Jonny

    April 7, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Had all of the previously stated problems numerous times. It is not the internet or anything else because ESPN360 and Hulu work great on my comp. The service is simply horrible. I wrote an angry letter and they canceled my subscription with a refund. I have now turned to pirating the matches off of torrents. I agree with one of the fellows above. These old guys need to get with the program and figure out ahead of time that they need to get quality streams online like ESPN 360.

  6. Gious

    April 7, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    More reason people need to stay away until this company had a year to sort out all these issues

    I knew they would stutter and suck this year as nobody does great when the START video services

  7. CMD

    April 7, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I will just echo most everyone else’s complaints, I have had some sort of problem everytime. This past weekend I had to watch Portsmouth/Blackburn (yes I am a Pompey fan/masochist) with the audio off because it was so far ahead of the video. A few weeks ago there was a Portsmouth match on a Tuesday or Wednesday that I tried to watch live and got an error message for the first 20 minutes. I emailed the Fox technical support link and got a response several days later suggesting the problem was my computer/connection, which it wasn’t because I could watch other live streams no problem. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Setanta-i but I would take it back in a heartbeat now! Hopefully they will get the kinks worked out soon.

  8. David the Yank

    April 7, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    That web posting scares me. Fox is already thinking about adding features (chat, Pic-in-pic) when what we care about is quality and availability of the stream. If I were managing that project, I would not allow one feature to be added until all sound/pic syncing, buffering, and availability problems were fully solved. They also truly need to allow people in before kickoff time! I wonder how much of their web problem is of their own creation as thousands and thousands of users all hit reload at exactly 2:45EDT because they don’t have a way to start watching a channel/game ahead of time. I’d also still prefer to have one stream that is just called “the primary channel” or, where you don’t have to click to each new match, but it just simulcasts what is being shown on FS+.

  9. Cricketlover

    April 7, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Why don’t just hire the folks that managed Setanta-i? The people at Setanta-i got most things right especially the quality of the streaming video and a good interface. If wants present subscribers to continue their subscriptions beyond May they should do something now so that we can see the improvements before deciding whether to continue our subscription or not. Right now I do not plan on subscribing for next season due to my frustrating experiences with

    • Brickthrower

      April 7, 2010 at 4:49 pm

      The worst part is there were tons of illegal streams of the last round of Champions League from FSC in HD. A certain service that rhymes with Beatle just had 60,000 or so watching Man U vs. Bayern. Maybe Fox should hire that guy.

      • goke

        April 7, 2010 at 5:14 pm

        that’s monkey-wrench in this fiasco ….pay $15 for crappy service or pay $0 for Quality 1mb stream in english w/pre,half,post game coverage….decisions decisions

    • brn442

      April 8, 2010 at 12:32 am

      Well said – C-lover, It is mind-boggling that Fox didn’t simply raid the Setanta-i platform or its staff. Compound that with the fact that Fox isn’t exactly a cash starved start up, is it? Plus, they do have a parallel feed of Fox soccer plus. Technical issues aside, the site is just a poorly designed mess. There should be job adverts for all of them.

  10. Jon Sharp

    April 7, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    I only discovered online football this year and so cannot compare with Setanta, but I am very pleased that I am able to watch so many EPL games online (I don’t subscribe to TV cable) for a reasonable monthly fee. seemed very poor compared with ESPN360 initially but seems to be improving – almost no buffering on games any longer (I get about 18mbps download speed on my comcast cable). I like the increased number of games and live matches. To some extent I understand outages on popular games – many online companies suffer outages when they underestimate usage – but that should get better as they get more data on peaks. What I simply don’t understand is the video/audio synch problem. I mean millions of ordinary people post Youtube videos every day and get it right – why can’t a media company?

  11. jmf

    April 7, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    On the flip side, gaffer, the quality has jumped dramatically. Most of the games I watch have very sharp picture quality. Orginally there was a long list of issues with – confusing web design, rugby coming up first, low quality streaming, concerns about the variety of games. As far as I’m concerned its getting better and better; yes there are still some issues but they’re moving in the right direction. Also, as a soccer and rugby fan, I’m delighted with the amount of rugby on offer. For $15 a month its a great deal

  12. Christian

    April 7, 2010 at 11:39 am

    If i’m paying $14 a month for this subscription then I damn well be able to see these games with decent quality. I hate how the game buffers every few seconds which makes for an awful viewing experience. This may happen because of the broadband at my college (the EPL games work much better on saturday mornings when no one is online). Regardless, FSC needs to sort their shit out asap. That or ESPN needs to buy the rights to Champs league games next year.

  13. DCRed

    April 7, 2010 at 11:07 am

    What was the story with the official UEFA website stream? Was it down also?

    • The Gaffer

      April 7, 2010 at 11:19 am

      DCRed, I believe that site was up with no problems.

      The Gaffer

      • Dave C

        April 7, 2010 at 9:29 pm

        DCRed: I can confirm UEFA site was up with no problems. That where I watched it when I saw was having problems (I have the live knockout pass which has come in handy since I don’t have cable)

  14. b

    April 7, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Here in Chicago we were treated to a 30 minute press conference about Depaul University hiring a new basketball coach. Cut to the game just in time to see Bendtner score.

    Wish it would’ve cut away after that, but oh well…

  15. ovalball

    April 7, 2010 at 10:59 am

    I am not thrilled with the problems have had, but so far am satisfied enough that I will certainly give it further consideration once my subscription runs out May 31. Where else would I have access to all those matches, both soccer and rugby?

    Let’s presume that given your info about a Broadband Product Manager that is well aware of its shortcomings and is in the process of doing something about it. It then becomes a question of future programming into the fall and next year.

    With the extra soccer matches that ESPN is picking up and the expiration of rugby rights contracts I don’t expect the line-up to look the same in either sport. For me, soccer alone will not get me to resubscribe. I can get all I want of that from FSC and ESPN. So, no rugby….no subscription. Simple.

    As for the technical issues, obviously if there is no improvement then continued subscription becomes a measure of my pain for gain tolerance. We’ll see.

  16. goke

    April 7, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Disney{ABC/ESPN1,2,3,Deportes} is begging for more football coverage by showing how to properly deliver to football fans

  17. Matthew N

    April 7, 2010 at 10:51 am

    The funny thing is… you can pay for and you have all these problems. OR you could watch illegal streams. Even if the illegal streams get taken down or crash, they are back up within minutes. Why can pirates do things right, yet a company that is getting paid money to provide a service can’t even fulfill their obligation as a provider of video content???

    This isn’t just a problem with, it is a problem with the entire entertainment industry. There are a bunch of 40, 50, 60 year old executives who have no fucking clue how the Internet works, and they just continue to do things poorly.

  18. Kevin

    April 7, 2010 at 10:40 am

    The whole service is a joke. Everytime I try to watch a game I have some issues. To make it worse the darn thing buffers every few minutes. I have tried everything, including connecting via internet cable and it doesn’t improve. I am really disappointed at how poor it is and hope they can improve for next season. Ill wait to read some reviews next year before purchasing.

  19. kenny

    April 7, 2010 at 9:19 am

    spurs/pompey? obviously a spurs fan

    • The Gaffer

      April 7, 2010 at 9:34 am

      Kenny, not a Spurs fan, just a fan of football. It’s the bloody FA Cup semi-final after all.

      The Gaffer

  20. Mercs

    April 7, 2010 at 9:02 am

    I was so excited to see that I could still watch games that weren’t being broadcast on tv when Setanta went out of business, and there was no more Setanta i. When I started watching the Man U vs. Liverpool game I was concerned something was wrong with my computer, but it wasn’t me it was everyone. It made me feel better but then I was a little pissed that I’m paying money for this service and they couldn’t get it right on such a massive game. And now to hear about the Barca vs. Arsenal game thats even worse! They better get things in order or customers will start dropping. My last comment is, they need to have a record option for the games like Setanta i had, waiting until midnight for the games to be replayed is ridiculous!

    • ovalball

      April 7, 2010 at 10:37 am

      The Barca/Arsenal match was up for VOD 30 minutes after completion of the match.

  21. Raatzie

    April 7, 2010 at 7:09 am

    Given that Barca-Arse and Inter weren’t on at the same time, it’s infuriating that Barca-Arse was on + in the first place. I understand putting a game on + when two CL games, or 5 10 a.m. PL games, are being played at the same time. Showing a Serie A rerun yesterday was inexcusable, especially when I’m paying $6 a month for the “sports tier” of networks just so I can get FSC.

    Should this marketing strategy continue, the smarter move would seem to be getting a subscription to and taking the “sports tier” off my cable. I’d only miss 2-3 PL games/week and 1-2 CL games/week doing so (assuming I couldn’t find streams), which basically was the situation when I had Setanta. On the other hand, if enough people were to follow my lead, FSC’s ratings would tank.

    Hope the subscription revenue makes tanking ratings worthwhile for them.

    • oliver

      April 7, 2010 at 10:06 am

      wasn’t Barcelona/Arsenal live on one of the Fox affiliates? Fox Sports South had a CL game scheduled at the right time. I was working (finishing at 5pm) so I waited for the re-run and avoided the scores.

      • BobbyB

        April 7, 2010 at 11:58 am

        Yes, it was. And it was on in HD

        • Raatzie

          April 7, 2010 at 6:34 pm

          Maybe that’s why. No FSN in Philly. CSN will get around to shwoing it, likely by June.

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