Modern Wonders Of Digital Technology Can Still Lead To Old-Style Outages

TV providers continue to offer up the fascination of new digital technologies. But the reality can be different, with glitches rubbing the shine off TV’s perfect transmission armor.

The Web-based Sling TV has recently had problems. By its own admission, it couldn’t handle an influx of users who were watching NCAA Tournament on Turner cable networks. Some Sling TV viewers witnessed choppy buffering, or no video at all.

The old cable TV mythology was all about waiting for the cable guy to show up and fix things.  Perhaps we hear less of that complaint today. Still, satellite TV programmers have problems -- at least according to some of their competitors. Comcast has challenged DirecTV’s claims that “with DirecTV you get 99% signal reliability.”



Back in February, at a Super Bowl party, TV Watch was invited to a surprise online, non-TV NBC version of the game. The result? Massive glitches -- as well as multiple repeats of the same TV commercials. After a while, our party gave up and went home.

Should we expect these TV-video platforms to be perfect? TV consumers are a savvy lot. But there are only so many disruptions we can tolerate. So where is that fine line?

We should expect cable, satellite and teleco TV to be pretty near-perfect. But Web-based, live-streaming video -- on laptops, tablets, and phones -- maybe not so much yet. Connected TV versions might further throw a wrench into all of these expectations. 

In any event, more disruptions are probably on the way. New cloud-based TV services will join the likes of Sling TV:  CBS All Access, HBO Now, Sony Playstation Vue, and a host of others.

Digital media platform/services always talk being “disruptors.” New stand-alone digital TV businesses, mostly coming from traditional TV players, are also looking to change business models -- but hoping to leave out the disruption of TV service.

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