The only Americans more upset with Disney than Ron DeSantis sycophants for one night were NBA fans watching The Little Mermaid instead of the Eastern Conference Finals on YouTube TV. But that anger is misplaced. YouTube TV was the culprit in Wednesday night’s Eastern Conference Finals streaming debacle.
The last few minutes of Game 1 sound like it was a riveting affair. I, along with millions of others, wouldn’t know, because viewers paying $72.99 a month for YouTube TV missed the last few minutes while the page buffered at the worst possible time. If you’re one of the people, who scrambled to fix your internet to no avail, rest assured it was not you. The leading live-streaming service provider froze like Joe Mazzulla in crunchtime and shit the bed worse than the Boston Celtics at home. During a commercial break in the waning minutes, most viewers were stuck rewatching a TV spot for The Little Mermaid on an endless loop.
For some viewers, the game skipped between Inside the NBA’s pregame show and skipped between various points in the game. Thankfully, YouTube accounts like FreeDawkins compiled highlights for displaced viewers like me to catch up on what we missed. Jimmy Butler’s three steals in the final six minutes, his dagger three that rattled around every corner of the rim.
YouTube TV’s subscription cost has gone up — and then this happens
However, subscribers pay far too much money to be stuck watching a buffering stream from 2009. The Google-owned streaming service raised its subscription price by 12 percent from $64.99 to $72.99. Wednesday’s Game 1 crisis was exacerbated by Roger Goodell’s appearance Wednesday night at YouTube’s Brandcast to promote the strengthened ties between the NFL and the streaming giant.
Instead, Goodell’s presence was overshadowed by YouTube TV’s high-profile outage stoking fears about how the streaming service may bomb as the new destination for NFL Sunday Ticket after nearly 30 years on DIRECTV. At least the Eastern Conference Game 1 wasn’t part of an extra offering. But the tension from Youtube investors is palpable. If I paid $400 for Sunday Ticket and the thing glitches out, YouTube TV and I would have a serious problem too.
Especially because in 2017, YouTube TV cost $35. While its price has skyrocketed, YouTube TV has overtaken a significant share of the cord-cutters’ version of the streaming-focused virtual multichannel video providers market. Last July, YouTube TV held 20 percent of the pay-TV universe and was rapidly growing. Their 5 million subscribers trail well behind the traditional powerhouses Comcast, Charter, Dish, and the aforementioned DirecTV.
On Thursday morning, the Wall Street Journal reported that ESPN is launching its flagship channel as a direct-to-consumer subscription service. Streaming is the future despite cable television’s attempts to retain its prodigious market share. But if these live-streaming service platforms can’t handle large audiences, it just might be enough to drag us back to cable.
There are suspicions that the streaming giant was unable to handle the spike in viewership for Game 1, but later that night YouTube TV announced that its streaming issues had been resolved. Too little too late for the rest of us. Just don’t do this in the NBA Finals.