Stream­ing ser­vice prom­ises fixes to wary NFL fans

DAZN tak­ing mea­sures to en­hance qual­ity af­ter rocky start last week­end

Calgary Herald - - FINANCIAL POST - EMILY JACK­SON ejack­son@post­

TORONTO Online stream­ing ser­vice DAZN says Canadian foot­ball fans should ex­pect im­proved view­ing ex­pe­ri­ences this week­end af­ter it fixed tech­ni­cal snarls that led to in­com­plete re­cep­tion dur­ing the sea­son open­ing games.

DAZN, pro­nounced “da zone,” is the ex­clu­sive plat­form where Canadian sports fans can watch ev­ery sin­gle Na­tional Foot­ball League game af­ter its bil­lion­aire backer Len Blavat­nik pur­chased the rights from the NFL.

But its de­but last week­end as a re­place­ment for ca­ble TV had some fans long­ing for their old re­mote con­trols. Lag times, ex­tended buffer­ing, mys­te­ri­ous er­ror mes­sages and mis­matched sound led to a flood of cus­tomer ser­vice re­quests and an apol­ogy from the NFL, which said it is mon­i­tor­ing the ser­vice closely.

In a state­ment, DAZN said there were “no ex­cuses” for the rocky start. It blamed hu­man er­ror for some of the big­ger au­dio prob­lems and said it put in a se­ries of checks to pre­vent a re­peat. It is mak­ing tech­ni­cal fixes to im­prove pic­ture qual­ity for view­ers with slower con­nec­tions, a process that will lead to in­cre­men­tal im­prove­ments over the next cou­ple weeks, and work­ing with man­u­fac­tur­ers to op­ti­mize qual­ity on dif­fer­ent de­vices.

DAZN man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Alex Rice said in an in­ter­view Fri­day that DAZN will “never say our prob­lems are com­pletely gone away” given the fact that play­back qual­ity de­pends on in­di­vid­ual in­ter­net con­nec­tions and de­vices.

But he said the mea­sures taken to im­prove qual­ity, par­tic­u­larly for sub­scribers with lower-speed con­nec­tions, show the ser­vice is tak­ing steps to win back con­sumer con­fi­dence.

“We rec­og­nize last week­end wasn’t good enough,” Rice said. “We’re lis­ten­ing and we’re putting in the mea­sures to make sure fans feel they’re be­ing treated re­spon­si­bly.”

That said, Rice ac­knowl­edged the ex­pe­ri­ence won’t feel ex­actly like ca­ble, where fans could switch be­tween chan­nels with­out lag time. Time lags of up to 30 sec­onds are nor­mal for stream­ing ser­vices.

“They’re slightly dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences … change is change,” Rice said.

While many NFL games are still avail­able via tra­di­tional tele­vi­sion pack­ages, DAZN holds the rights to the rest, the games diehard fans and fan­tasy foot­ball play­ers would deem es­sen­tial watch­ing.

It’s the first time stream­ing is the only op­tion for Cana­di­ans who want to watch live sports on a screen. While Rogers Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Inc.-owned Sport­snet has an online stream­ing ser­vice, the games are also avail­able on ca­ble. Fans aren’t con­vinced the NFL made the right choice in go­ing online only.

Cal­gary res­i­dent Ian Gil­lies said he’ll give DAZN an­other chance, but will can­cel the ser­vice if re­li­a­bil­ity doesn’t im­prove due to the “mis­er­able” game watch­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. “It’s es­pe­cially im­por­tant to have a good NFL view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence given all the an­cil­lary games that go along with the ac­tual game such as fan­tasy foot­ball,” he said. “If I were the com­pany I would def­i­nitely be of­fer­ing some in­cen­tives to stick with it dur­ing its grow­ing pains.”

In an email to sub­scribers Fri­day, DAZN CEO James Rush­ton apol­o­gized for the prob­lems and said the com­pany will be “reach­ing out to ev­ery­one early next week with more de­tail on com­pen­sa­tion.”

DAZN is a pri­vate com­pany. It does not dis­close how many sub­scribers it has in Canada.


DAZN apol­o­gized for tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties dur­ing NFL games streamed last week­end. The online stream­ing ser­vice partly blamed hu­man er­ror and said it was es­tab­lish­ing a se­ries of checks to pre­vent a re­peat. It added that it will con­tact sub­scribers...


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